For the Dark Night of the Soul: “Born to Live”


“Where words leave off, music begins.” No argument with Heinrich Heine, but I would say that music and words together sometimes are more powerful than either alone. Case in point, the documentary Born to Live.

You probably haven’t heard it, unless you live in Chicago or have followed the career of the legendary oral historian and radio personality, Studs Terkel.

This collage of voices and words has been broadcast as the first offering each January 1 on radio station WFMT. Created in 1961, during the “Cold War,” it remains timeless; designed to lift you up on those lonely nights at 3:00 a.m. when everything seems to be pulling you down. Once heard, you will not forget it.

Enough. Listen:

The photo is called Beach Sunset Newport Coast. Catalina Island is in the background. It is the work of Axion23 and is sourced from Wikimedia Commons.

“The Only Thing We Have to Fear is…”

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1933 inaugural address, given in the terrifying midst of the Great Depression, is quite well-known for the line: “The only thing we have to fear is, fear itself.” With 25% of the work force unemployed, there was much of which to be afraid.

Less well known, but no less eloquent and telling a comment on fear came from his widow, Eleanor Roosevelt, when she was asked late in her life to give a radio audience some guidance based on her own life experience. Recall that Mrs. Roosevelt was a timid, unattractive, and lonely child, afraid of many things; left by her widowed father to be raised largely by her severe grandmother. She eventually became world famous, not only because of her husband, but because she became a champion of the rights of disadvantaged groups and a spokesperson for the United States. Eleanor Roosevelt was a public woman known for her actions and her voice when most women stood in the shadow of a husband.

The quote? “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

Good advice for just about everybody.