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Don't Stop Trying Amidst the Chaos

written by Jennie Antolak, MA, MCC

Five lessons, 10 hours and $400 later, I know nothing about singing. While I believed I was hiring a music teacher, I unwittingly procured a show tunes companion instead. Each week he enthusiastically arrived at my door with his attaché in tote filled with musical marvels from the past 60 years. As I welcomed him in, I matched his enthusiasm with equal eagerness convinced that one of these times it would prompt him to invite me to sing or to at least teach me a technique or two. Not once did my music teacher fall under the power of my persuasion. Instead, he assumed his position at my keyboard as though he were the Piano Man who was solely there to "sing us a song tonight." Then Covid arrived and his mini-concerts came to an abrupt, state-mandated halt.

On days when I'm longing for the company of others, I start to think, "I miss my piano man." It takes a while, but before I wander too far down the path of my sketchy memory lane, I catch myself. I recognize the trickery going on here. This is my isolation insanity creeping in and attempting to hijack my logic. To cease the madness, I hum a few lines from the song by Sara Bareilles, "Orpheus," because, as I mentioned before, it's not like I can sing them.

I know you miss the world, the one you knew

The one where everything made sense

Because you didn't know the truth, that's how it works

'Til the bottom drops out, and you learn

We're all just hunters seeking solid ground

Don't stop trying to find me here amidst the chaos

Though I know it's blinding, there's a way out

Say out loud

We will not give up on love now

No fear, don't you turn like Orpheus, just stay here

Hold me in the dark, and when the day appears

We'll say

We did not give up on love today

The practice of rehearsing these few lines of “Orpheus” averts my meandering mind, coaxing me back to reality.

I had never heard of the character Orpheus the first time I listened to this song and felt compelled to dig into this mythical story. There are many versions of this tragic tale. My short synopsis of Orpheus is the following; he had a great love, Eurydice, and she died on their wedding day. Orpheus convinced he could not go on living without her, charmed his way into the underworld to restore her mortality. 

With the sweetness of his voice and the mesmerizing music his lyre Orpheus over each beast and demon along his journey. Yet, it was not enough. Orpheus had to adhere to one rule to bring his love back to life. He had to agree to walk out of the underworld facing forward with Eurydice following behind. Orpheus had to promise he would not look back until they both crossed over into the mortal world, or he would lose her forever. Believing this was a simple agreement, Orpheus consented to the conditions.

Orpheus was unable to hear Eurydice's footsteps during the ascent from the underworld. He feared the gods fooled him. Only a few feet away from the exit, Orpheus lost his faith and turned to see his love behind him. At that moment, she was whisked back down amongst the dead, trapped with Hades forever.

I feel as though the hands of Hades are close by when I look at what is unfolding in our world today. Many of us, like Orpheus, had great "loves" we possessed in our pre-Covid lives that were taken from us prematurely. We all made and continue to make concessions to ensure that the safety of others and the welfare of our country are protected as we step cautiously into this new world.

Yet, now we keep looking back, fearing our "loves" are not following us into this parallel universe. In my heart of hearts, I know we as a nation possess the tenacity to ensure all loves endure in some manner no matter the circumstances that are placed in front of us. To keep fueling this belief, I will continue to heed the words in the song 'Orpheus' and never "stop trying to find love here amidst the chaos." I will face forward and wholly trust that what we need in the future will follow us home. And perhaps my piano man will show up at some point and actually teach me to sing in this new unknown world of ours.


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The piece above was written for our Saturday@theCenter: Navigating in a Parallel Universe. Welcome to our parallel universe! Here up is down and down is up. Days last longer than weeks. Drinking at 3:00 pm is not bold and risky. Waiting until 3:00 pm is just insane. Shirts are required, but shoes and pants are optional. Exercise is entertainment, and hugs are hazardous. Parents are daycare providers and teachers. Children are co-workers and bosses. Clearly, our reality isn’t rational, and so why not fraternize with failure in this new world we have found ourselves in? What could possibly go wrong when everything is upside down already?

What are all the whims, wishes, wants you’ve had throughout life that you never fully pursued? You stopped yourself due to time, conflicting commitments, lack of confidence, or fear your efforts would flop. It felt too risky to put yourself out there. Well, in this new paradigm backward is forwards, so where you thought before you might falter, perhaps now you will only fly.

Anyone is welcome to join us for sessions like this one and more. Check us out at

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