A Hard Rain and Hope for Tomorrow
By Judy Berman
There’s nothing like a hard rain to drown out distractions. It’s just you and your thoughts alone with the deluge.
It can be the kind of weather that just begs for you to stay home, pull up the covers and go back to sleep. It cleanses and purifies as you quiet your mind.
Or, that steady roar that comes down in sheets from the eaves can be unsettling and bring unwelcome change. It can envelop you in sadness and wipe out all that’s comfortable and familiar.
Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” was filled with apocalyptic visions of nuclear war, environmental crisis, famine, and where people are out of work and face desperate times.
Written in the early 1960s, Dylan might have been speaking of today. His message still resonates. “It’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.”
As it fell, I saw someone standing in the breezeway, just looking lost as the rain pounded down. The next day would be his last one there, as he and nearly 200 other teachers and 80 media assistants in our school district will have to look elsewhere for work. This is the human costs of the district’s efforts to cut $30 million from its budget.
Their departure is a loss for all of us.
The next day, we talked. If you can call my breaking down and crying like a newborn … talking. Dark memories resurfaced in the wake of the layoffs. I told him of a time when I worked in radio. It seems like every 1 ½ to 2 years, I had a new “opportunity” to find employment as a result of format changes or budget crunches.
One time after I got my notice, I awoke in a panic, frightened that I wouldn’t be able to pay the bills and be able to care for my two young daughters. My colleague assured me he’d be OK. It was odd. He was trying to comfort me.
I did survive, of course, and I know that he and others will, too.
For some, however, that recovery is more challenging.
As a reporter, I recall covering the shutdown of a 104-year-old plant outside Syracuse, New York. In 1986, Allied Chemical laid off 1,500 employees. It’s a plant that generations of families worked at and thought they had a job for life.
As the whistle blew to signal the end of their final workday there, I walked alongside folks who were in a state of shock. I felt as if I were at a wake. It was that quiet as workers quietly shuffled out of the factory for the last time and headed home.
It’s a memory that haunts me still.
We’ve gone thru these setbacks many times as a nation. That recovery is harder for some than for others. They’re held back by a change in required job skills, education or a dwindling pool of jobs …
“I saw a white ladder all covered with water,” Dylan sang.
That ladder means opportunity, but the water means it will be more challenging to climb. Like Dylan’s blue-eyed son in the song, we have to go back out there ‘fore the rain starts a-fallin’.
“Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’, But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’.”
We know from the outset that we’re in for a hard rain. But if we struggle and work together, we can safely navigate the turbulent waters.
My husband and I have traveled this road and weathered the storm. What I want my colleague and others to hold firm to is: Better days are ahead.
After losing her job at NBC’s “The Today Show,” journalist Linda Ellerbee said: “Every exit is an entry somewhere else.”
“What I like most about change is that it’s a synonym for ‘hope’ If you are taking a risk, what you are really saying is, ‘I believe in tomorrow and I will be part of it,’ ” says Ellerbee, author of “And So It Goes.”
COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original
Music Video – Bob Dylan – A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xq1q9k_bob-dylan-a-hard-rain-s-a-gonna-fall-1964_music#.UaCz3UDfSF4
Photo: Hard Rain – taken May 8, 2012, in downtown Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico by © Tomas Castelazo, www.tomascastelazo.com / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/01/Falling_rain_in_mexico.jpg/603px-Falling_rain_in_mexico.jpg
The 10 Greatest Bob Dylan Songs http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/the-10-greatest-bob-dylan-songs-20110511/a-hard-rains-a-gonna-fall-20110511
Photo: Sunrise over Lake Biwa in Japan – copyright by owner A-giâu, taken in 2004. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/3a/Biwa_Lake.jpg/640px-Biwa_Lake.jpg
It is hard times. When I worked in human resources I orchestrated layoffs, sometimes actually selecting among a group of equally qualified people. It takes a toll both on those who go and those who stay. I bumped into one person a year afterward. She said it was the best thing that ever happened. She landed a new job (she was in her late 50s so I was worried about her finding anything) that she liked a whole lot more. Not everyone was that lucky but it helped to know that some end up better. We are seeing more jobs in our area but the school districts are still getting hit. Our schools are funded mostly by real estate taxes (not a good idea) and people just can’t afford the massive increases that have happened in the past few years. I always hope that there will be a solution.
You’re right, Kate. It’s hard on those who go and on those who stay. Your story is encouraging.
I’ve been in the position as a radio news director of having to tell talented, creative, hard-working staffers that they would be losing their jobs. One asked me, “What am I going to do? I have school loans to pay.” I told him: “If you play your cards right, you may wind up with my job. I’m looking elsewhere.” I did find work at a station I really wanted to be a part of, and he stayed and became news director at my former radio station. It worked out for both of us. I hope it turns out that well for everyone.
Life will always have it’s ups and downs, dark and light, poverty and riches. I often feel our idealism of finding a job and staying in that one job for many years with steady money is largely fed to us at school. It was certainly the image I was being asked to imagine – if I just did my best at school somehow my adult working life would all go very smoothly from then onwards. And considering that was the early 80’s, it was a bit of a joke to still be feeding teenagers that kind of image, as in reality, jobs were fast disappearing, and by the time I left school in 1984 there were no jobs for a 16 year old, and that continued for many years.
Life is hard, and it’s always been hard, but glossy magazines with their promising images of a rosy life make those that are on a downward spiral feel like their world is coming to and end, when in actual fact – it’s just normal, an uncomfortable ride. But there is one thing you can be sure of, life never stops changing – when there is a down, there will always be an up! 🙂
Suzy, I agree. Those jobs from cradle to grave did seem to disappear decades ago. Many of us hope, however, that if you work hard you will be rewarded. In radio news, I quickly learned to expect the unexpected. The instability was unnerving, at times, but I grew stronger as a result.
Thanks for your comments.
Wow. An amazing piece of writing; and many of us have been in the same posiiton during this recession. The panic you speak of is a familiar phenomenon. But it’s good to hold onto the fact that we are human, and reinventing ourselves, diversifying, is what we do best. A lovely hopeful note to your last paragraphs. Thanks.
Thanks, Kate. While these experiences made me stronger and I became more versatile just to survive, I wouldn’t wish that roller coaster ride on any one. I’m glad you liked my story, including the hopeful ending. Bottom line is I am always hopeful that things will turn out well.
A beautiful post Judy. Love that it ends on a hopeful note.
We have been through similar crisis and felt like it was the end of the world each time. But change has always turned out to be for the better. Who knows, maybe we train ourselves to look at change that way. As long as we hold on to hope in the midst of the panic, things eventually turn out OK. Sorry about your colleagues. Hope they are able to cope with these trying times.
While I laugh about the theory that ‘everything happens for the best,’ I have to admit that often is true. You’re correct, Madhu. I do believe that “we train ourselves to look at change that way.” It’s a healthier view than sinking into depression and being unable to cope. Our school would be delighted to have them all back and I hope some miracle happens so they can. If that’s not possible, I hope they find something even better.
I can relate a great deal with this post, Judy. Work is getting harder to find, and creative ideas and new directions are the only answer. In a strange way, it’s somewhat comforting to hear that many other people are struggling, too, because that suggests that it isn’t a personal failure. But we can’t sit around and wait for things to get better — we have to do what we can to make them better. Thanks for another great post. I wish all of your former colleagues well.
Creativity and reinventing ourselves does help in that struggle. Your comments remind me of my Mom telling me how folks survived during the Great Depression. No matter what was called for the man (or woman) out of work said they had the skill required to do the job. Often they did not, but they quickly learned.
Charles, thanks for your positive comments and your well-wishes for those most hurt by today’s economy.
Thanks for sharing your inspiring story. Hope and courage made you and your family surpass the storm. I too worry about my job and where my financial future is heading. As long as we have true friends and family to help us during turbulent times, and a God that heres our prayers, we can weather all hardships.
To know that we are not alone is a great source of comfort. In uncertain times, that is a powerful force to draw on. I hope that everyone can weather their personal storms – whether it’s a job, a relationship, health, etc. Thank you for your comments.
One of your most beautiful and thoughtful posts, my friend– equal parts empathy, compassion, grit, realism, courage, and faith. May raindrops of happiness keep falling on your head, come rain or shine!! : )
Thank you for your kind words, Mark. The words “raindrops … keep falling on your head” do take me to a happier place … “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” If we all have their pluck, we will do well. Blessings to you, my friend.
I’m not crazy about the closing scenes in BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, but there’s much about the movie that I love. This is a powerful post, Judy, a much-needed nudge to remember that often life is darkest just before dawn. Thanks especially for the Linda Ellerbee reminders, especially the “Every exit is an entrance somewhere else.”
Marilyn, I’ll grant you that the ending in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” was not happy … unless you buy into the notion that SOMEHOW they managed to escape. (It’s the song I loved … and many of their antics in the film.)
Linda Ellerbee is such a wonderful writer and I love her positive outlook on life. Thank you for writing.
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