reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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the imperative. [merely-a-thought monday]

i loved it all. the halls of john glenn high school, the walls of the classrooms i sat in, most of the extraordinary teachers i had the pleasure of studying with, most of the classes i took. i loved math, i loved science, i loved english and creative writing. i even loved my jewelry class, though i was not particularly skilled at it. i took no music classes in high school. none.

the guidance counselor didn’t know what to do. what direction do i go? what path do i take? what major do i pursue? the emphasis was on the decision. make one, i was told. it is quite possible this is one of the reasons why, years later, i completed a guidance and counseling masters – to scrap the emphasis on the decision and shift it to the process. at a time in the late 70s when college was ever-important and i was top-of-my-class i was underserved. it does not matter where you are in your class if your spectrum of curiousness is dowsed by someone pressing you into a mold, narrowed into a this-or-that.

in my first years of community college i still loved it all. philosophy classes were a stand-out. economics were not-so-much. business law was a low point. environmental science classes fascinated me. because i played the piano, taught piano lessons, wrote songs, and directed a youth choir, i signed up for a couple music theory classes and met paul simon, the godson of my music theory professor sy shaffer. listening to paul talk about songwriting was a huge highlight. i mean, it was paul simon. but i really still didn’t know what direction to take.

a life-changing event, as life-changing events do, changed that.

i moved when i should have stayed. i left when i should have dug in. i dropped the rest of the curiosity to focus on the familiar, the known. albert einstein would have taken me by my ear. “stay curious,” he would have admonished. “what you seek is seeking you,” rumi would have whispered to me. “wait.”

it’s funny to me now – as i look back – that i did not focus on the inordinate number of hours i spent writing in a tree. it’s funny to me now – as i look back – that i wrote songs and music and arrangements – fifteen albums worth – and never really thought of all the heavy composing or theory classes i took in my second half at university. never once have i gone back and compo-analyzed the structure-texture-tonal-system-consonance-dissonance of a piece of music i have written. it’s funny to me now – as i play with design and photoshop and cartooning and blogging – that it didn’t occur to me, as an editor at john glenn’s art and literary magazine “gemini”, how much i loved what i was doing in those after-school hours-and-hours sessions with one of the world’s best and most expansive english teachers, andrea vrusho. it’s funny. we see and we don’t see. twists and turns, paths taken, paths not taken. our stories all different. stages and flatbeds, classrooms, church chancels, the state side of the courtroom, piano benches, recording studios, choir rooms, department-store-holiday-wrapping in lean times. all part of the curio cabinet, never full, never finished. we take paths and, if we are scrappy and confident and lucky enough to be supported and even mentored, we make the best of them. anyway. there is a richness to each story and each path.

no special talents. passionately curious.

we all have something. something that sets us apart from each and every other person. something that the world we are in cannot do without. for every spoke in the wheel counts and every gift, every talent, every nurturing soul, every fixer-upper, every engineer-brain, every teacher, every scientist, every laborer, every inventor, every chef creating magic in a soup kitchen or michelin-star-bistro, every artist, every athlete, every skilled-trade expert are necessary in this place, at this time.

it is exactly that – that is brilliant. it is exactly that which is genius. it is the appreciation of that – so much to learn – which is the gift of being human. it is the imperative of humanity.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

and a little mood music for you – the orchestra of my professor sy shaffer


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mike and arvo at dinner. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

mike oldfield played during our dinner on sunday evening. we hadn’t listened to his voyager cd in quite some time and put it on after arvo pärt’s piece “spiegel im spiegel”. we all sipped wine and chatted, catching up.

and then, in the way of surprise moments, i heard it. somehow i had forgotten. “mont st michel“. i jumped up to run into the sunroom, telling them, “wait! you have to listen to this. really listen. hear what happens!” i pushed the button on the cd player to go backwards on the track and found a spot before the moment. i went back into the kitchen to make sure they were listening. i pointed out the swell as it happened and my heart crescendo-ed with it, spilling into tears i could not help. stunning texture, orchestration that raises and tosses you around in mid-air, holding you up in the clouds, swirling around you, steadfastly not allowing you to fall. it opens you, gives you hope and elevates every single thing, and then gently, tenderly sets you back down again. words rushed out of me as i marveled – again – at this piece, a composer of impressive standing, mike oldfield at dinner.

because i had the floor, i put arvo’s piece back on – a definitive difference in texture and absolutely no less tantalizing, no less seductive as it draws you into the play between piano and cello. utterly gorgeous.

and then, because i had the floor – and they were encouraging me – i put on two of my own pieces: “last i saw you” and “peace“. i talked about composing and structure and the weaving of emotion, about ken’s orchestration and producing, about the rise and fall. i described the moment we slid the sliders forward on the mixing board during last i saw you – a moment i will never forget, ever. the lift.

and, then, as suddenly as it began, i stopped, realizing i had just talked nonstop for the last half hour or so. they sat quietly. so did i. the texture in the air was palpable and i was grateful to see tiny tears forming in the corners of their eyes as mine were not hidden and were threatening to overflow.

the path from dinner to dessert was full…our conversation deep with the fresh air only heartstopping beauty can bring. like this beloved path around dory lake, lined with aspen and pine, grasses and reeds, the path to pumpkin pie was lined with talk of cellos and french horns, piano lines and the effect of a crescendo on hearts hungry for a little release.

mike and arvo left after dinner, and i put away what was left of the pasta fagioli in the stock pot.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY