Letter

“The wise man bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace, making the best of circumstances.”

 

Dear Friends,

What a dramatic and strange time in modern history we are all sharing. How we completely miss being with our friends, fans, partners and fellow artists on the WoodSongs stage every week at the historic Lyric Theatre. I hope everybody is staying well, safe, that you’re being careful, washing your hands and staying strong through this time of social isolation.

We have some good things you might be interested in, especially on the Woodsongs YouTube channel. If you subscribe to the page, every Monday evening you will get a text announcement of a new show being put up for the channel. Most recently fans got to enjoy the WoodSongs 1000th broadcast with Riders in the Sky, the RFD broadcast of Walden for Earth Day, and new shows that have not even aired yet. Bryan Klausing, Jerome Gallt and Isaac May have done a wonderful job keeping the broadcast up-to-date, all complements to them for their grand effort.

Just go to this link to sign up, watch what you want and stay part of the WoodSongs community … it’s all free: YouTube.com/Woodsongs0TRH

UNEMPLOYMENT

How are you dealing with the unemployment and social isolation issues?. Like millions of others, especially my friends in the music and arts community, I’ve been completely unemployed since February and it doesn’t look like I will be able to go back to work until August at the earliest, probably the fall most likely. Maybe.

Things in the music business were pretty tough before, but since the virus hit the entire economic world of the arts have shut down … actually any community-driven enterprise from restaurants to sporting events, concerts to coffee houses … It has all stopped dead in its tracks. Album, CDs and book sales have evaporated from the income stream of every artist I know.

That is certainly a stress point, especially when you have five-year-old toddlers and a home to take care of. Every penny, nickel and dime must be carefully balanced as conservatively as possible to stretch out through the coming summer months with no income in sight.

HOME

Our home is the garden of our life. Our home is the inheritance for our children. Home needs to be cared for, protected and maintained. Here is a chapter from my third WoodSongs book about my home with Melissa and the twins:

Home chapter: CLICK HERE

Of course, being isolated in a rural part of beautiful Kentucky at a Log Cabin on a hill with a woodstove, surrounded by guitars and banjos is not exactly a horrible thing. Are you doing projects around your home? I’ve spent some of this downtime caring for the maintenance on the cabin, power washing the logs and repairing decks, fences, the orchard and things on the property. I’ve gotten to do a lot of projects that I’ve neglected because of time constraints and that has helped the homestead look quite beautiful this spring. The organic garden is being planted, the trees in the orchard have been pruned and trimmed. If the economic recession continues and we are not able to go to work soon it’s quite possible I’ll need to sell this place over the summer, so caring for it now while there’s time to do it is the right thing.

Creating a beautiful home, to me as a dad, is like providing a log home nest for the twins. I’ve built them playgrounds and covered sandboxes, a big swing set and a full-size playhouse, teeter totters, trampolines, tire swings, sliding boards and more. They run out to my writer’s cabin in the back meadow to bang on their drum set. I even built a Swiss chalet bedroom with a crosswalk between the beds. I wanted the Log Cabin to be the twins paradise. Here is a song that I wrote and recorded as a duet with Melissa for the babies home here at the Log Cabin:

Log Cabin Twins, song: CLICK HERE

FRIENDS & ART

Have you connected with your community during this downtime? I’ve used the time to re-engage with my friends. I did not realize how much I’ve lost touch with folks over the past few years … With over 40 Woodsongs broadcasts each year, my own concerts around the country, song writing and recording albums, three books written and published, two movie scripts, projects with symphony orchestra’s, the TV broadcast, creating and launching the SongFarmers community … plus taking care of a home and twins… I simply did not notice how out of touch I was. This downtime has created a very valuable opportunity to re-engage with scores of friends, and that has been a source of comfort.

Social isolation has created a good opportunity for songwriting … Art is created in isolation, we have to be alone to dig deep inside of ourselves to be creative, so this episode may end up being one of the most important art renaissance periods in American history. We will see about that in the months and years to come. I’ve written a few pretty good songs, and started preparing the text for WoodSongs 5, the final book of the WoodSongs literary series.

LONELINESS, ISOLATION & GOSSIP

Social isolation also has a bit of a downside, something worth addressing here I think. We see it reflected in our media … the need to present drama has superseded actual news. It makes the news channels hard to watch. I refer to Fox as the “wag the tail” network and CNN as the “tattle tale” network. Thank goodness for NPR, the BBC and PBS News Hour, but even then who knows.

I see this stress reflected in communities across the country. The longer social isolation goes on, the harder it is for many people to cope. People get frustrated, bored and then angry. The danger of isolation is boredom, boredom is a breeding ground for gossip and drama. Especially with people prone to anxiety and panic attacks life can seem out of hand, out of sorts and out of control.

I worry about these folks. Even in my own family I know someone who struggles with maintaining composure and common sense. They can get so lost in what they want they lose sight of what they need. For example: We may want to get out of the house and hang with friends… but what we need is to stay home. We may want to take our federal assistance money and buy stuff… But what we need is to be conservative and make every penny last as long as possible.

Social isolation is a breeding ground for negativity, people get depressed and sad. They will complain about things that normally are easily resolved. Out of loneliness they might complain publicly … and other bored and isolated people will pile on mercilessly to add some element of excitement to a stagnant lifestyle.

This can be burdensome if not outright dangerous. With millions upon millions of people out of work, anxiety levels growing because of economic uncertainty, the heartache and drama of the coronavirus and what it’s doing to our loved ones, the barrage of negativity and slanted reporting in the media, the natural stress of being alone and isolated from friends and family, tens of thousands of hard-working Americans now on food lines … this is the time to stay focused and keep our heads and spirits intact.

I encourage everybody to think carefully about how to use social media especially, it is both wonderful and dangerous. Use it for positive things. Use it for good things. Kind and loving things. Don’t read something negative online and then pile on because you are also bored. The innocent end up getting injured the most when that happens.

It’s been my experience, and I have seen nothing to change my mind about this: the one thing that everybody who engages in online gossip have in common is that none of them ever contact or speak to the person they are gossiping about to find out if things are even true.

And if you are the subject of this unkindness, do not respond. Be forgiving and, most important, silent. Do not add to the tsunami of noise.
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MY LETTER

I guess what I’m writing here is a letter to all people that I care about. You, your families and friends, fans of the show, audience members and partners that I’ve known for years. There’s so much good and beautiful in this life and we need to stay focused on those good things. Don’t let the iron borders of isolation make you think otherwise. Life is a gentle Garden that needs to be nurtured and cultivated, cared for and tended so that in later years the harvest of everything we’ve done will be there for us.

During traumatic times, like what is happening around the world now, can sometimes make us lose sight of the good things that we have and the need to protect the harvest of what our lives mean. Destroying things out of anxiety, boredom and isolation helps no one.

Nobody knows what the next few months will bring, all we can do is stay positive and healthy, and determined to do what is right. Will Woodsongs be back? I certainly hope so. Will I be able to go back performing concerts and working to provide for my family again? I certainly hope so. Will you and I be able to visit over apple pie and coffee at a hometown cafe? Lord, how I miss that. And I miss you.

Here in Kentucky we have a very capable, caring and steady Governor. In Lexington we have a very kind and pro-active Mayor. If you see something you disagree with, excercise your right to speak up … protest, but please use kindness. Don’t dishearten those doing their best by acting your worst. Contribute solutions, don’t be destructive. The screamers and angry folks never solve anything, they just make more stress and noise. Words matter and this is a time when we all need to be helpful, co-operative and understanding.

So stay positive, stay strong, be safe, be careful, stay on your own front porch … and wash your hands after every song.
Michael Johnathon

from the Log Cabin

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