Friday, January 11, 2019

New Math

You have 9 rehearsals scheduled, an hour commute, a lengthy date with a copy machine, a class to teach, another hour commute, 4 lessons, 3 hours of music to prepare for competition and a finicky printer that absolutely must complete a major print job tonight, how do you bend time and space to  take a shower and achieve more than 4 hours of sleep?

You desire to be excessively organized in the morning, so you start hunting down wardrobe options.  If both of your feet exist in close proximity to each other, particularly when removing any shoes, why is it that you can only find one black flat, one black boot and one slipper, but 4 complete pairs of crocs?

Your cat ignores you the entire evening but hogs every inch of bed 5 minutes before you get there.  How much time do you waste trying to solve this problem before deciding you guess can carve out a tiny spot on the edge of the bed?

You wish to be news-savvy but emotionally healthy.  How many baby goats in pajama videos will it take to counteract Twitter?

You should practice for Solo & Ensemble but realize the quality of any instrument you play on will be Saloon grade 5 or worse.  Calculate the importance of being professional musician, factoring in time spent numbering measures, chatting up the other accompanists, reassuring panicky singers, and checking for scores.  Divide by the number of keys and pedals that do not work.  Solve for X, and with the remainder, buy a walking taco.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019


Write a letter
Color a picture
Read a book
Take a nap
Pet the cat
Pet the other cat
Do the dishes
Play a game
Delete old emails
Delete new emails
Think of all the things you have to do
Think of all the same things you'll have to do tomorrow
Check in on friends
Fall down the Youtube rabbit hole
Don't update iTunes. Again.
Have a lovely dinner
Wrap up in a warm blanket
Check email but don't actually read anything
Ask Alexa about the weather
Set an alarm
Set two alarms
Do a crossword puzzle
Do two crossword puzzles
Plan how to stop time and space so you can get everything done tomorrow
Start to rationalize an early bedtime
See that it's after 11 and early is gone.
Construct mental arguments for a bedtime before midnight
Win that argument.

Just don't turn on the damn TV.
Don't read the comments
Stay away from political time-sucks and emotional landmines
Twitter will wait
So will Facebook
The battle will still be raging in the morning, so

Actively look for good news
celebrate the successes of others
hold up those who hurt.
Live and love without fear.
Count your blessings, even if you have to fudge the numbers.
Vow to do the same tomorrow.
Drown out the noise of the world with every song you know,
Sing them all. Loudly.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

How Can I Keep From Singing

My life flows on in endless song
There is a song for every occasion
For every emotion
For every purpose
How often is time spent searching
for the just-right ever-changing song

Above earth’s lamentation
Sometimes above
but sometimes in concert with.
Angry, misunderstood, dissonant chords
of suffering, loss, and grief

I hear the sweet though far off hymn
In times of doubt, faith tells me it must be there
In the dark night hours hope comforts me
When the noise is overwhelming,
the melody nearly imperceptible
and the harmony hopelessly obscured
It is there even when I am unable to hear

That hails a new creation
But music returns
In a silent sunrise
a soft rain
a clean, blank page
a baby's cry
a full, fresh breath
a new day

Through all the tumult and the strife
Where there was surely a beginning,
in this singular word
This "through"
we know there is an ending
Through the tumult and strife
Not In, not amid,
Not mired in, or forever trapped

I hear the music ringing
Always, always, always there
Ringing is resonance
Resonance is life

It finds an echo in my soul
Empathetic vibrations
Received and resounding
Some left in the heart
but even more to share
To resonate
To live on
To find an echo in another soul
And another and another
To hear the music ringing
Through Through Through all the tumult and strife
Sweet hymns hailing a new creation
Above earth's lamentation
Life flows on in endless song
In concert with those who sing on earth
and those whose song forever echoes

How can I keep from singing

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Onward and Upward

This is a fairly accurate representation of the survival mode I've been in for the past two years.  The problem is, I'm much more a brain person in this scenario than a heart person.  I really wish it were the other way around, and I had the strength to ignore every last scrap of the news that runs rampant in our 24/7 news cycle.  Intellectually, I know it is healthier to step away. But when I even consider it, there's a tug that seems to say if you step away for a moment, something newsy might happen.  To miss it is to be unaware, and to be unaware is to contribute to what got us in this mess to begin with.

But then on special days like today, in the midst of scrolling for the next news hit, you see a picture like this one.  And underneath the crushing sense of despair, the tiniest feeling of hope creeps in, and maybe, without even realizing it, you can breathe again.  This day is so very special because for the first time, so many more of those who represent us look like the us they represent.  Godspeed 116th Congress.  Do great things.  We are all counting on you.

The Parenthesis of Time

Image result for michigan state university winter night

This is my favorite time on campus.

The students are still gone,
enjoying the last few days of vacation.
Gathering strength through home-cooked meals
and time spent with friends and family,
they fill their souls with new stories, cherished memories and smiles,
enough to propel them into the new semester with a renewed sense of purpose.

Some students remain.
For them, home is too far away, or maybe isn't really a home.
Maybe there is a job, or another commitment, or no real reason to leave.
I hope this time gives them what they need in whatever form it might come.

It's so peaceful right now
in this empty or nearly-so campus.
As I leave the building with the sun long-since set,
A light dusting of snow has coated everything.
Settling in on trees and bushes, buildings and statues,
and gardens long since surrendered to their winter sleep.

In this still, sacred moment,
This parenthesis of time,
before everything begins again,
before the runners take their mark,
before the next downbeat,
I stand for a moment in the stillness of a cold January evening
marveling at the magnificence of this silent, unassuming beauty
and cherishing every second.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

One Day More

So here we are.

There is a new calendar with a new year and lots of fresh new pictures.
Social media is full of family pictures and inspirational memes.
The overwhelming feeling today is one of gratitude and optimism,
and I have to admit, I'm right here too
Organizing my house, making lists,
and posting words of encouragement, love, and gratitude.
But the question is -- how long?

How long can I feel grateful?
How long can I read words of inspiration with an open heart and not with rolling eyes?
How long can I sustain a sense of optimism in the face of life, work, obligations,
and well....just everything?

Because I know the day will come when exhaustion will win,
when beautiful pictures of beautiful people in beautiful places will lead me to annoyance,
and when the minutiae of the day-to-day brings no joy.
When I bring no joy.
When I feel no joy.
When the feeling of being overwhelmed is both paralyzing and suffocating.

I know that day will come will come for me.
I think it comes for everyone.

My goal and my hope (NOT my resolution) is to spend one day more
in the hope and joy that the new year brings.
And when I'm feeling like the day has come that will break the streak,
I'll admit to feeling less-than, and know that it's OK.
Maybe you'll still be in that zone of gratitude, optimism and joy,
and you'll have some to share.
I promise I'll do the same for you.

My hope for 2019 --
And more love and joy.

One day more.