August 2010

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Hardened, I, we, to the possibilities of hard times, of accidents, exigencies, sickness, nastiness, loneliness – whatever. Always surprised: never surprised. Each day magnified to an equal portion with all of life, it’s all amazing. Each sadness hurts, still, as we know well how to find the places of hurt within us, and how to milk them for all they may be worth. Also, the happinesses. It all seems fair within the game of life’s chances.

What hurts so deeply, still, and for which there has been…can be, no hardening, no feelings powerful enough to dwell within, are the sicknesses and accidents which overtake our children.

Not prepared; there is no preparation I know or want to know. My…responsibility? No possible justice here. Somehow it is my fault, our fault, that they are here. Their lives should be…easy, unattacked, not their fault? How silly.

I understand, almost adjust to life’s shortenings, accepting the worst in my life’s (im)possibilities. It’s the part that comes afterward; whatever is young, whatever has sustained me thus far, that seems like it should be, should remain simple and clean: parents sicken and die; children live.

Like I somehow own the germs and viruses, have fought them, bought them off. They have tricked me, made my child ill, and there’s nothing I can do beyond helping breathe into them, the breaths of the life I know, and hope it works…still.

We are old, our children young. It seems unfair, horrible, against the very principles of life, that they might be at great risk. And what to do…in case the worst…happens.

I taught how people think about success, and he asked about self-satisfaction; perhaps the only thing which lasts, which serves the psyche more, the outside judges less (or damn them!).

Ooh-h-h! I breathed deeply, the breath expanding, invading all the areas of my body where the edges of hurt reside. Self, I thought, where are you so I can feed you, so I can satisfy you?

My self answered back, that place-in-me which ranges from a rather bitchy aesthetic which prefers the whipping of birch bark on frozen days, on sauna-ed flesh’s excesses, to a gluttonous obesity of countenance whose satiety is reached only at near collapse, that self answered back with some sort of sardonic grin which blinded me and turned-off thinking.

I worried. It worried me. It pushed, bent, I wanted to run into the mirror so its silvered surface would dissolve and welcome me into Lewis Carroll’s domains behind; so I could look out, protected, and glance at my self glancing at its self looking for some satisfaction, pleased…

The mother of the fledgling organist – the student of my partner in music – exclaimed in some musing wonderment: did Bach compose much for the violin, too…she supposed. I giggled, the awed knot inside my deepest self giggled too, and I said, simply, “yes, quite a bit.”

Details, she didn’t want. I supposed she had realized, finally, that in her son’s playing of Bach, something of import might be happening; finally, after many years of experiencing Bach, but not within any realization.

Right now, preparing to perform a Bach Trio (D minor) with flute and organ, I am struggling to discover the whole of the music written-in to that composition. This trio, like the violin-keyboard sonatas, a sort of aberration from what is ordinarily Bach. Each change of string a new voice written in counterpoint to the flute: this sonata, of-a-piece in many ways.

Some 18 years ago a friend wondered if I could play the unaccompanied Sonatas and Partitas, and I responded that I thought (was certain: lolling in my unpracticed, pre-humbled days) I could play any Baroque pieces.

What surprise, what ignorance, what pleasure to discover these masterpieces inspired my beginning to restudy the violin. Now, imagining my competency to play some of them (!?); imagining at last performing a few movements, Bach is at once thrilling and tough. The strength, the memory, the knowledge and confidence necessary to play them, makes them good practice for so many other techniques, for hearing chords, for…everything musical.

Maybe that mother will learn, too, to study Bach, to study with Bach, to hear, to feel all the sounds and voices and timbres resonating on this earth, calling out the spirits of our gods of music so we may hear them and they us…

(Currently playing-at the unaccompanied Sonatas and Partitas – far, far to go…!)

Training; seduction? Early talent told to do something? Interesting; important?  Poor visualization, no talent for the geometric until seen? A memory of proportion, and ears that loved hearing, what is one to do…in life?

To be new upon this earth, to be the first, to do something, to think something no one else ever had, a new idea, a new, new…

At war in the institutionalized knowledge of this age with the sense that walls and cloisters should cast upon the tomes which exist already, a sense of enduringness, and of an importance which pales…to the mind which wants to be new, new.

What good, old? To certify what is new, what is original, raised to an epic battle between the deities which are already and those waiting to be born.

She pursued a life’s career with savvy and good will.  At one point she became the leader and director and maker of many decisions that affected the people under her.  She was the pipeline to policy and on the end of telephones galore; discussing, deciding, telling, thinking.

After many years, approaching the years of possible wisdom, a time when knowledge might be distilled from knowing, she became somewhat famous. Being known far and wide, she changed tactics, changed her career, became a doer in…in the inner circle…in… in the wider arena.

She had become powerful.

Powerful! The word rang and buzzed in her being, that she was powerful.  She could enter larger arenas, make her world better, even good, within some visions that she worked at; having and being. She discovered within a certain sense of flattery and adulation, that she was powerful, that her fame had propelled her peripherally; that she was operating in a place which had a great deal to do, but could do nothing because it was all honorific there.

And so she bolted, and began to rethink.

The conundrum:  having become powerful she had lost most of her power.