Cause vs. Occasion

3 min readJan 13, 2021

How’s everyone doing out there? It’s been a wild ride of a week.

Remember the good parts? Remember when the Democrats secured both the White House and the Senate for the first time since 1969? (how American, to treat the dawning of a centrist government like it’s some kind of revolution…)

Then, a violent uprising trying to overtake the capitol.

Is that a dramatic way of summing things up? I don’t know. It feels dramatic on paper. But I’m not sure how else to say it.

Scary stuff. And, like so many things that have happened over the past twelve months, oddly unsurprising. Like we’re careening through a car crash in slow motion: we can all see nothing good’s coming, but it seems a bit late to do much about it.

It made me think about the difference between the occasion and the cause.

Think of it this way: you show up ten minutes late to a dinner reservation with your girlfriend. The next thing you know you’re arguing about the birthday gift (or lack thereof) you got her three years ago.

The occasion is that you’re late. But that cause is you’re an asshole. Two very different things.

We’re all living above an undercurrent of emotions. You clock in, you clock out, go about your day in the fog of your nine-to-five grind. But beneath that, there’s something’s brewing in all of us. Give it a chance, a fissure in the fault-lines of your everyday, and watch what happens next — you’ll be telling your girlfriend you thought the necklace you got overnight on Amazon for ten bucks was in fact in VERY good taste, thank you very much, and how long do you need to defend yourself about this before you can put it to rest?

In other words, Faulkner was right. The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.

So what do you do when these flare-ups happen on a historical scale?

I remember when the protests broke out this summer, there were a few songwriters who wondered if they should be creating. That by stopping, they would be respecting all the suffering out there — or at least I guess that’s what they meant. I didn’t really know, because it made no sense to me. Take the people out of the street, and the issues are still there. Go back generations, and it’s still there too. If I don’t put in the work now, then when? Am I supposed to wait for a perfect world before I pick up my guitar? And if that ever happened, what would I even sing about?

Is that right? I don’t know. You tell me — I’d love to hear.

But all said, if the past year has been a car crash in freeze-frame, I believe we’re getting near the end of it. The airbags will kick in any day now and save us from the worst.

(Also, very upsetting that these rioters look like they belong on the streets of my old neighborhood in Bushwick. *shakes fist in air*)




Musician, writer, and outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks