Have you ever been at a concert or some other musical program in which the audience began a rhythmic clapping in synch with the music?

And, in an effort to join in, have you ever found yourself about a half-a-clap off, where you’re not quite with the rest of them? You have to hesitate and try to get in the rhythm of the thing. Otherwise, it’s they clap, you clap, they clap, you clap until you just give up and fold your hands and listen.

Being out of rhythm can apply to a lot of other things related to music. What if the trumpet player or drummer is not in step with the rest of the band?

I’m not a musician but I think the rhythm principle applies to many other areas of life. We’ve all had days when we have felt like we were half a clap behind the rest of the world, haven’t we?

This whole concept came up recently in a conversation I had with a friend who, in his day, was a pretty good athlete. In high school, more than a few years ago, he was a pitcher on the baseball team. He said if the opposing team was going to get to him, they better do it early in the game, before he got into his rhythm. The same is true in professional baseball today.

John Skipper mug 2


I don’t have quite the same frame of reference from my younger days as a pitcher. Let’s put it this way: If the strike zone was high and outside, I’d be in the Hall of Fame.

This rhythm thing is true in other sports as well. Football and basketball coaches often call timeouts for no other reason than to break the rhythm of the other team.

Is it possible for cities and governments to be in a good rhythm? Clear Lake seems to be that way all the time with government functioning effectively and being in step with the community – and the community being in step with it.

For years it has seemed like Mason City was half-a-clap off. There was either needless bickering among City Council members or the public whining or engaging in legitimate or not-so-legitimate protests about one thing or another. And while there was progress, it wasn’t fine-tuned.

As we look back on this year and look forward to the next, there is a sense that Mason City now is working in rhythm and enjoying the support of the community. The opening of the ice arena/multipurpose center is one example. Start of construction of the apartment complex downtown is another. Plans for the new hotel are moving along – finally. Businesses are starting up; others are expanding.

The mayor, city administrator and council all seem to be in concert with one another. It doesn’t mean they always agree on every individual thing but there is a palpable rhythm to what is going on in the community – and the community feels it. City government sets the tone for that.

There is a song made famous a century ago in which one of the lines is, “I got rhythm; who could ask for anything more?”

As the joy of Christmas and hopes for the new year approach, let us all work toward not being half-a-clap behind.

Happy holidays, everyone.

John Skipper retired from the Globe Gazette in February 2018 after 52 years in newspapers, most of that in Mason City covering North Iowa government and politics.

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