By Daniel F. Scherl

The following is an edited transcript from the Memories of a Moonbird Podcast. Direct links at the end.

Welcome to the Memories of a Moonbird podcast:
Exploring life… one story at a time.

Hello, friends and welcome to “Moonbird’s Epilogue,” my annual wrap-up and look back over the last 12 months!

A lot of other recaps out there are going to review all the events of this past year. I decided not to do that because if you’re listening to this, you just lived through it all, and I don’t think people need me to hit replay so soon. In addition, we also referenced most of the world and life-changing events in almost every episode of the show this year, so if you want to hear me talk about those things, feel free to listen to any of the episodes you may have missed.

Instead of reviewing world events, I wanted to actually talk about one of the questions that I asked some of my guests this year and why I think it’s actually relevant to this recap. My guests come from a variety of ages and countries and cultures from all over the world. While I’d love to play back all of their answers, for the sake of time, I’m going to highlight some of the more poignant ones. The question I asked was:

“What is the purpose of art?”

Clare Whitney:

“I believe that it’s to connect people and share different experiences. You don’t have to exactly paint something and say that it’s, “Oh, like, this is what I want to be, or this is what I’ve created.” But I personally believe that it’s to share experiences through each other’s lives.”

John Furniss, The Blind Woodsman:

“I think art is the root of creativity. It is the, I mean, because without art, we wouldn’t display our creativity. We wouldn’t create things that were not before, other than in our mind. And without that, we wouldn’t have any of the inventions or anything that we have today. So I think that art is the root of creativity and innovation.”

Janet Hirsch-Ettenger, Doula and Childbirth Educator:

“To connect. Like something that you see as beautiful, or like you were saying, like when your friends say something, like you’ve been recording their words. It’s for me at least, it’s like feeling something or being moved by something, and seeing the light hit something in a particular way… whatever it is. Or the way something sounds, or the breath, the air on your face, and wanting to share that with someone else. Like wanting somebody to feel it the way you do, I guess, as a point of connection. Because like we said, there’s a lot of emptiness, you know? Like, we are, as much as we surround ourselves with people or have families or whatever, ultimately we are walking this alone, you know? It’s you, in your experience.”

Jacques Freydont, Renaissance Man:

“I think it feeds the soul. I have to say, you know? Entertain and delight, isn’t that what they used to say poetry should do, is entertain and delight? When I was young, what I landed on, was to “Articulate sublime sentiments and document the language.” That was what poetry should do. But yeah, I think to articulate sublime sentiments in such a way that it stirs the soul. That’s what I like to see from art.”

Lois Burwell, Academy Award-Winning Make-Up Artist:

“Well, I think it’s to transform. It’s to lift us, to make us think, to make us better than we are.”

Isaac C. Singleton, Jr., Actor and Voiceover Artist:

“The purpose of art is to get people to think about things and enjoy the life that they’re living. But I think the purpose of art, whether it’s a painting or a movie, or whatever, it’s to open your mind up to different possibilities and just think about stuff. To make you feel something.”

Dr. Kseniia Ashastina, Paleoecologist and Paleobotanist:

“The purpose of art would be moving people’s emotions, I think. To unravel what’s inside and make them think about the things they maybe would never think of in their daily life.”

Andy Robinson, Actor, Writer, Director:

“To make us recognize our humanity. I mean, to put a mirror up to nature. To show us ourselves as we are, and to help us become better.”

Dr. Sarah McKoin, Director of Bands:

“I think it contributes to our humanity. I think it contributes to how, it sounds maybe sophomoric, but it makes us kinder, better people. And I’m not exactly a hundred percent sure how that works, but I totally believe that it does do that. I think that the people that go and support art and watch art and look at art and consider art and value performers and value people making a living and their life’s work doing that, when sometimes it’s not very well valued by society, I think those people operate by a different barometer sometimes, you know? And they’re a little kinder and they’re a little more gentle and they’re a little more accepting, and they’re a little more excited about how that does add to their life. I’m not… that’s a terrible answer.”

As I told Sarah then, and I’ll repeat it now: that was actually a great answer. And the reason I asked this question beyond the obvious curiosity of wanting to know what different people’s answers would be, is the fact that art is one of the greatest forms of expression and communication that we have.

We’ve been storytellers since the beginning of our species.

The conversations in the show that this question came from, and the conversations that this question led to outside of the show, all shared a common theme. It was something that was felt underneath the many hours I spent in front of a microphone and the many more in pre and post production.

There was, and I think continues to be, a real desire from everyone whose life crossed my periphery for more and better communication worldwide. All of the people I interviewed felt that no matter where we each stand on a particular issue, what’s more important is finding a way to heal the divide between us, not first as citizens of our respective countries, or as different ethnicities or different genders, but on a very fundamental level as human beings.

The one person on the show this year who summarized this best was a 74 year old woman named Wilexia Shields-Knox. She was one of the people I interviewed for the episode entitled “Voices from Black America.” When we spoke about how to address racism and how to move forward as a species, she said this:

Wilexia Shields-Knox:

“We all want the same things: We want to be loved, we want to be safe, we want to have jobs, we want to be educated, we want to be acknowledged… respected, you know? And I don’t think any one of us can deny any of those. So, you know, those are the things that will hold us together, but the conversation Daniel, you have to talk. You have to talk. You just… it has to continue in earnest.”

“The conversation must continue in earnest.”

Those are words you’re going to hear me quote, probably for the rest of my life, because like Wilexia, I believe in them wholeheartedly. Whether it’s friend to friend, parent to child, company to employee, or citizens to their government, if we want to heal the spaces between us and the world at large, the conversations all must continue in earnest.

To that end, in 2021 I promise you that the Moonbird conversations will be continuing in earnest, and I thank you in advance for tuning in.

– Daniel F. Scherl, December 31, 2020

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