Shaving soap and toothpaste low, laundry bag full, I need a haircut—it’s time to go home. Woke up just before my 3:30 am call with a little song from my teacher Avon in mind:
All things go too fast, swiftly pass the years.
Only love it is, that with us stays, abides with us.
To be selfless we must trust.
This life of travel slows time’s swift foot, filling each day with the richness of novelty and the pleasure of small adventures. But it is also a life of familiarity, carrying my world with me regardless of weather, cuisine, scenery— the same work I’ve done day after day with kids in San Francisco transposed to new places. And carrying my laptop and checking in to wifi hotels, I indeed carry that world on my back. But just as my best music lessons offer variation within repetition, so do these opportunities to carry on this work with new people, places and cultures.
It’s also a constant immersion in Fantasyland because I get to touch lightly and never have to bother with real, long-term relationships, never have to grapple with the inevitable conflicts of people sharing space and time on this planet, never have to go to staff meetings. The love that with me stays is the easy kind, the general love of humanity before someone squeezes the toothpaste from the middle of the tube or puts the mallets back in the wrong bin.
And now I’m going home back to the real world of community. Jump back into taking the garbage out on Thursday night and shopping and cooking and paying my taxes. Back to school with the Spring concert coming up and generally checking on the musical development and emotional well-being of students, some of whom I’ve been teaching for 11 years. I’m on the hiring committee for a new Middle School head (a position that can make or break the spirit of the staff), have three kids' workshops/concerts lined up with my Pentatonics Jazz Band, have elder friends at the Jewish Home awaiting my return for our Friday sing. Already, I need to start plotting and planning and negotiating for next year’s travels in February and March. Oh, let’s not forget the formal acceptance of Interns for next Fall and final details of the summer Orff Course. Real life awaits.
I was 21 years old when Avon sang that song at the end of my first-ever Orff Course. I had no idea how important that class would prove to be, just a trust in a long life ahead in which my dreams could stretch out and ramble and roam and explore. And indeed, off they went, dance step after dance step, bringing me to this moment in the Singapore Airport. I trusted in them and never quite got Avon’s marriage of selflessness and trust, but maybe it had to do with opening to grace and not bullying my ambitions with too much force of ego and self-glory. Just a trust that the work was necessary and important and what I was meant to do. And that has held up.
Like everyone my age, I’m not happy to feel the reduced space for my future dreams to roam. No more open fields for branches to go where they will, more like bonsai dreams. But that’s the natural order of things and instead of wasting too much energy kickin’ and screamin’, I’m just grateful for each opportunity to keep them alive. What a remarkable seven weeks it has been.
And now, “San Francisco, here I come. Right back where I started from.”