During World War II, Allied prisoners of war in the Philippines, amidst unspeakable brutality, disease and daily executions, put on talent shows that included singing, skits and comedy. It provided a sense of community and a temporary escape essential to their survival. A sense of humor, noted a survivor, was important: “One of the tricks of survival is to laugh, no matter what happens.”
New York theaters closed after the September 11, 2001 attacks then reopened two days later because people needed a place to share an experience and feel a sense of community. Broadway lights came back to affirm “New York must show the world the terrorists have not won.” Continue reading
Holiday cheer and gaiety – there’s no escape: Deck the halls, colored lights, cookies, presents. Whether holiday depression is fact or myth (statistical evidence is inconclusive), the ubiquitous pressure is enough to bring on the blues!
When someone says “I’ve got the blues” we understand that life has gone a bit off kilter, that we’re not functioning at optimum level. Blues music is believed to have evolved from southern plantation slaves whose songs gave voice to cruel realities such as oppression, death, and lost love. Today, except for performers, we are not likely to sing about our blues. Since the discovery of serotonin-enhancers that improve a person’s mood, psycho-pharmacology has become a multi-billion dollar industry. We are also discovering that those very same drugs alter the brain in ways researchers never imagined, sometimes dangerously and fatally so.
What springs to mind with the word “retreat”? It’s a pretty safe bet you don’t think about the enemy fleeing from the battlefield or the military ceremonial lowering of the flag. “Retreat” usually shows up in the context of time away from daily demands. We imagine enchanting resorts with white sand beaches, salty ocean breezes on the deck of a cruise ship, a cabin nestled in northern pines, a campfire under the stars. Mostly, “retreat” means to take oneself away from the daily routine, either alone or with a group, with the intent of self-renewal. Continue reading