Today is Carl Orff’s birthday. 122 years old. Minus 35 years somewhere other than this planet.
I never met the man, but know several who did. He wrote so little about his visionary ideas for music education, but each sentence continues to resonate with pedagogical brilliance and humanistic promise. The life I stumbled into was destined to give body to his ideas, give weight to his imaginative flights of fancy, give feet to his winged vision. And that I have faithfully done these past 42 years plus and keep signing up for another round to investigate yet another unexplored corner of this large, large world.
It is always good taste to thank those whose shoulders you have stood on to see a bit further and so this brief public acknowledgment of the man who handed me my life’s work, a life perfectly suited for the way I’m put together and just large enough to give me ongoing opportunities to dig deeper and reach higher. By quantitative standards, it’s a small life, a 30,000-view TEDx talk one instead of a 3-million-view, but by qualitative standards, it’s about as large as I could ever ask for, filled with the delight of children and the equal delight of adults given permission to unearth their buried child. It calls forth every part of our human possibility—a trained body, cultivated mind, open heart and awakened spirit. It has been for me a path with great heart, as Don Juan describes it:
“Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t, it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere, but one has a heart, the other doesn’t. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes
you strong, the other weakens you.”
Just spent five days in Portland with the grandkids and there were some fine moments—Zadie learning how to jump rope, Malik jumping fearlessly into the pool, the usual mix of the Marble Maze and reading books and telling and writing stories and singing songs, Stone School on the front steps, dinners in the back yard, kids in the tree house and so on. Exhilarating and exhausting at the same time, following the whims and fancies of the kids with the expected screams and breakdowns and tears next to the laughter. Now with Zadie with pure grandparent time in Michigan, in Ann Arbor about to drive the 5 hours up north to the summer cottage on the lake. A needed and welcome break between the Brazil/ Colombia Jazz Courses and the Nova Scotia/ San Francisco ones.
But the return to “work” in the midst of the summer never feels like the return to work. It is stepping back onto this path with heart and seeing what new vista is around the corner. Thank you, Carl Orff, for this most remarkable gift you have bequeathed to me and so many others. And happy birthday.