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    Change

    By Dr. Tim Seelig–

    “Change” is a small word, but it holds more different meanings than most words in our vocabulary. It’s both a verb and a noun. After almost a year on Zoom, friends might say, “Please change your clothes.” Or, “A change of clothes is definitely needed here!” Almost everyone, from luminaries to the most definitely not luminaries, have opined about it. Some meanings are part of our everyday language, such as, “The only thing certain is change.” Looking back over my life, I can give a big amen up in there on that!

    There are others that should be part of our everyday experience. Here are just a few from some amazingly brilliant luminaries. Take a moment or two with each.

    “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
    Jalaluddin Mevlana Rumi

    “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.”
    John Maxell

    “If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
    Maya Angelou

    “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
    Mahatma Gandhi

    “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
    Steve Jobs

    There are two kinds of change. One, we choose. The other is not chosen by us but comes our way at the hands of others—or fate. Sometimes we change jobs, friends, hairstyles (some of you), oil (if you own a car), and we change our minds. Sometimes things are changed for us. And, almost always, we are changed.

    The topic of change usually comes around each January. This January was such an incredible month of upheaval. The dust is just now settling so we can see things a little more clearly.

    My last article was about the fact that, under normal circumstances, “Hindsight is 20/20.” That usually means you can look back and see things more clearly than you ordinarily might while you are going through it. Hindsight for the year 2020 is anything but clear. What a mess it was.

    In this article, I will briefly share some thoughts on change in our country, city, chorus, my world, and me. Of course, I encourage you to consider your own changes along the way.

    January 2021 was definitely a month of change. It was one for the books—in so many obvious ways. We had a change in the president of the United States. That was not without unbelievable struggle with everyone holding their breath on January 20. And why wouldn’t we, since the former president led a coup attempt to overthrow the incoming, democratically elected president. That only led to him being impeached—a second time—and then not convicted on crimes documented by the Senate, even though they barely escaped with their lives. All of that was a big change! More is needed. Much more.

    One thing changed about our current situation with COVID-19, but many didn’t. Some businesses remain shut down and there was an exodus from our city. The following was reported in SF Weekly: “According to United States Postal Service data, change-of-address requests originating from San Francisco zip codes between March and November 2020 suggest that nearly 90,000 households have relocated outside of the city since COVID-19 swept into the United States.” On the bright side, it has resulted in easier parking. More than 10% of our San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus members have already relocated. This is a big change.

    The one positive thing that has changed and brought indescribable hope: the arrival of the vaccine. Oh, what a relief it is. It is going to change everything as it continues to roll out.

    In terms of the chorus, our last performances were March 7 and 8, 2020, in Charleston and Greenville, South Carolina. Our last rehearsal was March 1. What a grueling year it has been. We have not been able to sing in person and certainly not for an audience. We exist on Zoom, as everyone else does. You can’t rehearse on Zoom since multiple voices cannot be heard at once. We’re creating virtual content as fast as we can. That process is more difficult than you might imagine and certainly difficult for the singers to record themselves singing only their part—alone! All of it is available on SFGMC TV. We are looking for change!

    Personally, I’ve experienced some change. The first number of my age changed with a decade birthday. I know you guessed it was a 5. I love you. For those you who guessed a 6, I love you, too. Nope, it’s a 7! Yup, I turned 70. That just can’t be. I waved my arms at SFGMC for the very first time the day before I turned 60. It’s been the most glorious 10 years. I never imagined that in my 10th season with the chorus, I would not conduct at all. I look forward to some more!

    Seventy seemed the perfect time to add a family member! Bobby Jo and I have been looking for a dog for some time. OK, truth be told, I’ve been the one scouring every rescue organization in the Bay Area. We found the perfect one. We adopted him from Muttville. If you don’t know them, you need to. They rescue and place senior dogs and cats only.

    Most people adopting are looking for a young dog or even a puppy. The seniors are overlooked. We adopted an adorable 7-pound chihuahua mix. He’s around 12-years-old (we’re close to the same age). The foster name they gave him was Mashed Potato. He is adorable! We thought TaterTot was more our style. My other doggie Gracey, whom you have seen in past articles, moved to Denver with Dan. They both can’t wait to meet TaterTot. That’s a big and wonderful change!

    For those who have followed along for these years, thank you. You also know my life has been full of change—large and small. OK, huge and medium. Change has literally been the constant. In 1991, in the midst of the AIDS pandemic when losses were unimaginable and I had only been out for a few years, a friend sent me these amazing words by Patrick Overton: “When you come to the edge of all the light you have and take that step into the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: you will step on solid ground or you will be taught to fly.”

    This has been my constant companion for these 30 years when facing change of any kind. The faith referenced has no religious connotation for me. It is one of the few verses in my own “Bible of Tim”! It is simply the faith in myself. It is the knowing I have it inside me to face whatever comes. It is also the faith in those I have been lucky enough to gather around me. My angels.

    There is a beautiful song composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber from Aspects of Love, “Love Changes Everything.” The lyrics were written by Don Black and Charles Hart. It is beautiful and oh so true. Take a moment and think about your own life. How many times has love guided you, touched you, changed you? https://tinyurl.com/1936d3ua

    I leave you with that beautiful text. I also leave you with the suggestion that I can back up with my own life. Change, while sometimes painful, has always brought new things, new life, and new opportunities. As we all go through change to come, may we remember to face it with love in our hearts.

    Dr. Tim Seelig is the Artistic Director of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.

    Published on February 25, 2021