A Trumpeter's Reveries
I sat with Cindy, a trumpeter, for a little bit before the dress rehearsal of the Flagstaff Orchestra. Cindy grew up in a tiny town of 1,400 people in Western Montana. Her memory of childhood centers around biking, hiking, and camping with friends. She remembers countless nights spent sleeping by the river in rows of sleeping bags like a set of sardines with her friends. This set the tenor for much of her life since then. She has a hard time staying in cities of any size, once moving from Cincinnati because, among other reasons, the river was way too dirty. She has a deep attraction to some sort of wilderness and feels responsible for protecting it.
One of her biggest complaints about America today is that the people making decisions have forgotten what it means to live a normal life in the rest of America. She feels people living in DC or the coastal cities mean well but start falling into the trap of serving their friends and not remembering that when they set policy or change the business environment, they're changing it for everyone. For her, being an American is fundamentally about being able to do anything and go anywhere within the law. When people in power centers make decisions that are detached from the America she knows, it feels like this fundamental freedom is being constrained.
At the same time, her work ethic and sense of personal responsibility is recognizably Western. She has a Big Sky Country mentality that no one should get a free ride, that working hard is the reason America is great and that people who don't want to work don't have the right to feel entitled to success. The America she knows is gritty and natural and proud to be. It's one that supports the arts and picks up it's downtrodden but expects an honest day's work from everyone in exchange for a fair shot at their dream.
One of her biggest concerns about the country is civility and intelligence. She says people don't read anymore, even a magazine. Everyone is swept up in technology and social media at the price of not reading and making an effort to understand the world around them in a deeper way. She's concerned this is what is eroding our civility with one another and our ability to get things done. Without a respect for learning and facts, it becomes much easier to fall off from what makes us great and become prey for the interests of other people chasing fame, power, or money.