Saturday, December 31, 2016

Sonata Form


They say that life imitates art and I think that they (whoever “they” are) are correct. Or is it that art imitates life? Either way, I just dropped off my daughter, her husband and grandchildren at the exact same spot in the airport where I picked them up seven days ago. Then it was all excitement and anticipation of the time ahead, now a deep sigh of contentment over the marvelous week we had together. In-between a rainbow arc of many colors and themes criss-crossing to arrive again at the same place changed by all that happened.

When they arrived, the house was clean, neat, orderly, quiet and peaceful and it soon filled with the bubbling music of four new lines of music filling the rooms with their singing. The themes of the seven-day sonata were announced like Beethoven’s proclamations—“Bom-bom-bom bommmmm! Bom-bom-bom bommmmm!” And then the opening statements were developed, moving between keys and new melodies and sub-themes, swooping from one to another, some in major moving to minor and back again.

On the car ride to the airport, Zadie proclaimed, “I can’t stop thinking!” “Neither can I, “ I replied, “but what I’m thinking about is all the wonderful things we did together. We drew pictures, sang songs, read stories, wrote stories, watched videos, went to a movie, did puzzles, played piano, danced, ate sourgrass while hiking, rode bikes, went to two playgrounds, saw the special Christmas lights in San Francisco, decorated Christmas cookies, went out for Dim-Sum, drove to Mt. Tam and hiked some more, played games with the kids and grown-ups there, laughed, cried, talked and more! It was all like a beautiful piece of music. And now it’s coming to an end and you’ll be back in your cozy house for the next piece of music to start.”

That’s sonata form. Theme, development and at the end, recapitulation, the themes re-visited to close the loop and to note how they sound and feel different having lived all the life in-between. That’s how we live our lives, the rhythms of all our different themes with their beginnings, middles and endings. All different lengths, from starting the day getting out of bed and ending the day getting into bed, to the opening school ceremony each year leading to the closing school ceremony each year, to the baby in diapers at the beginning of speech to the elder in diapers at the end of speech. Some are symphonic in length, some are three-minute jazz tunes with the head-solo-head.

Now back home after the airport drop-off, the house again peaceful and quiet (though not yet orderly—much clean-up ahead!), but with the echoes of the vibrant voices of the grandchildren still hanging in the air. It’s the last day of the year and now the work of closing out the 2016 Symphony and preparing for the opening notes of the New Year. Somehow broken instruments rightfully discarded have found their way back into the orchestra and the conductor wrongfully hired has no musical training and no heart for the feelings music speaks. It will not be easy to play the pieces we deserve. But like steel-drum bands who made music from junk, we’ll find a way to get 2017 singing. Yes, indeed. The closing chords have sounded and the next theme awaits. 

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