It’s the last day of August. It has been quite a month. Opened with a wedding that I officiated of my sweet friends Kim and Micah and closing with the beginning of my first full week of my 41st year at school. In-between were two glorious Orff Courses, one in Carmel Valley, one in Toronto. Meeting my grandson Malik in Ashland, Oregon on his 6-week birthday, time with my beloved granddaughter Zadie, her impressive 16-year old stepbrother Alijah come to finish out high school on the West Coast and—oh, yeah— my daughter Kerala. Horseshoes, Rummy 500 games, Zadie in the town swimming pool, a few days of real summer. Before that a short trip to Ann Arbor and officiating the Memorial Service of my mother-in-law. A few work days at school and then a splendid Opening Ceremony, first classes with 8th grade and 5-year olds, my beloved Preschool Singing Time and then Jewish Home Singing Time. Beginning the work with the four new Interns. Back in my home reunited with my piano, my bike, the Inner Sunset Farmer’s Market, Trader Joes, cooking, some evening videos. Like I said, quite a month.
And the six weeks before were pretty eventful as well. The trip to Portland in June to greet Malik at his birth and his refusal to come out on time. A memorable week in the Turkish countryside with folks from Turkey and Iran playing music and dancing together. A 60 person family reunion in the Rocky Mountains with daily 8 mile hikes at 8000 and above elevations, communal meals, games at night, informal singing time with the kids. A Jazz Course back in San Francisco and then the first week of the Carmel Valley Orff Levels training, where I turned 64 years old. I missed the week of swimming in Lake Michigan, when things slow down to the heart of Summer, but still it was a perfect blend of work, family and time outdoors. Amidst all the other perks of being a teacher, time to stretch out in the summer ranks high!
I’m reading a new book that I’m thoroughly enjoying titled A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. There’s a 104-year old Zen nun character named Jiko. Her teenage granddaughter is telling about her and writes:
Old Jiko is super careful with her time. She does everything really really slowly, even when she’s just sitting on the veranda, looking out at the dragonflies spinning lazily around the garden pond. She says that she does everything really really slowly in order to spread time out so that she’ll have more of it and live longer, and then she laughs so you know she is telling you a joke.
I mean, she understands perfectly well that time isn’t something you can spread out like butter or jam and death isn’t going to hang around and wait for you to finish whatever you happen to be doing before it zaps you. That’s the joke and she laughs because she knows it.
Summer has always been the time for me to slow down like that. But seems like I’m packing it full of intense experiences and maybe that’s my own laughable strategy to stretch out time and try to cheat mortality. You know how it is when you travel and three days feels like three weeks because of the intensity of each day and the novelty, the constant new experiences that avoid dull routine and make each moment vibrant and alive. And so from Portland to Turkey to Estes Park to San Francisco to Carmel Valley to Michigan to Ashland to Toronto and back to San Francisco, that’s quite a merry-go-round and each one delightful in its own way.
Now it’s back to school schedule and routine and every day with a known character and that is its own form of pleasure. Farewell Summer, Welcome Fall and mortality, don’t bother me, I’m busy.