The last day of my 65th year finds me awake too early with Nova Scotia jet lag and preparing for a day of marvelous jazz with 15 teachers, 18 4-year olds and later, the elders at the Jewish Home. What could be better? Well, it could be in a country where people refuse to accept a leader who uses every occasion to try to glorify himself at the expense of other beautiful souls and has so little shame that he’ll turn a talk with Boy Scouts into a political rant. And have said Boy Scouts cheering instead of booing or sitting in stone silence or afterwards, making an organizational public statement that this was unacceptable. Everyone with a beating heart is posting on Facebook their disgust at this man, but I believe we need to trumpet out the same for everyone who lets his remarks and actions pass. Not only did those people elect him, but they feed his pathological sickness. This is not a time to be silent.
And so I speak up strongly in my little gathering in my Jazz Course, with the extra bonus of such joy on the other side of the necessary grief of this country’s sad, sick story of genocide, slavery, misogyny, homophobia, war for profit, unchecked greed, purposeful perpetual ignorance passed on in schools. And the people respond. No one tells me to keep politics out of my jazz teaching. They can recognize Truth when it enters the room and understand that I’m not looking for agreement on my political position, but making sure the stories come out that allow people to form a coherent and informed political position. And when it comes to the history of jazz, there are plenty of stories!
What a miracle that everything I’ve cared about in this life—from music, community celebration, social justice, joy and laughter, grief and sorrow, the full-of-wonder freshness of the 3-year old, the emerging passion and dreams of the 13-year old, the in-the-thick-of it energy of the 33-year old, the wisdom and fullness of the 93-year old—are all woven together in one multicolored dream cloth of each day of my teaching life. 65 is the official and mandatory retirement year in most of Europe and in that respect, I’m grateful that I live in the U.S.A.!!! When it comes to teaching and living, I’m just getting warmed up.
And so I close with the word that closes many of my letters to friends and colleagues, if Fate be so kind as to grant me this possibility: