• Kathy A. Bradley

"And The Winner Is ... Starting Over"



The fields surrounding Sandhill are naked. Along the edges of the yard, where a fence would be if I were a fence sort of person, the tractor tires have made loops like rainbows or rick-rack and I have to be careful as I make my nightly rounds not to stumble.

It is that time again. Time to start over.

It has been such a mild winter that I might have expected myself to be less moved by the sight of the fields stripped and plowed and cut and left waiting, less moved by this herald of spring. But I am not less moved. I may be, in fact, even more than usual.

In the wake of so few bitterly cold days, the turning under of naked cotton stalks seems less rebellious and more determined. Starting over, it reminds me, does not always have to be in the wake of destruction or disappointment. Sometimes it is simply the natural order of things.

And, as I was reminded watching the television broadcast of the Grammy Awards, starting over can also be simply a matter of the desire to do one’s best.

I don't watch awards shows much anymore. It may be because I have little time for the popular culture it celebrates or it may be because the celebrations have too often turned into something completely other, platforms for the political opinions of those celebrated. Or maybe I just forget. Whatever the reason I generally don’t watch, the reason I did watch this time is because I am a great admirer of Adele.

I explained my appreciation of the hugely popular singer to a friend of mine by saying that I especially like the fact that she just stands there and sings, that I can understand her lyrics without having to look them up, and that she makes me feel better about my body type. On Sunday night she added to that list of reasons for me to appreciate her artistry.

Chosen to perform a tribute to the late entertainer George Michael, Adele got off to a very rocky start. I am not enough of a musician to say exactly what was happening, but it was clear that discordant is the best way to describe it. On live television she stopped, apologized to the producer, used a swear word (for which she later apologized profusely) and said, “Can we please start it again? I can’t mess this up.” Later, accepting one of the three major awards she won that night she said, “I had to get it right.”

The Staples Center, where the ceremony was held, holds 21,000 people. Another twenty-six million people watched the broadcast. That is a lot of people in front of whom you admit you messed up, in front of whom you declare that this thing is important enough to start over.

Picking my way over the tractor tracks last night, kept company by yet another startlingly beautiful sky full of stars, I thought about starting over. I’ve done it plenty of times in the natural order of things – new school years, holiday celebrations, planting gardens. And I’ve done it while experiencing excruciating pain in the wake of the deepest disappointment. But I couldn’t remember the last time I had started over, from scratch, on something important, something public, something that mattered for no other reason than to get it right.

I decided I might need to do that occasionally. I might need to take a breath, look at what I’m doing – writing a column or planning a future – and give myself permission to start over for no other reason than my heart tells me that what I’ve done so far is out of tune. For no other reason than I want to do it right.

Adele started over and got a huge round of applause. One of those applauding was me.

Copyright 2017


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