The calendar page turns once again and it’s November. Halloween has come and gone in all its splendor. The powerful Intery Mintery ritual at school fulfilled its promise, 100 children joined together in music, dance and drama every bit as stirring and musically satisfying as opera or Coltrane. Walked that night with the Interns to the other world of Belvedere St., imagining a tourist arriving accidentally and astounded by the throngs of costumed people leaving their day selves and entering the magical, mysterious, hilarious and just plain weird world of Halloween.
Writing this at 7 am in the morning, the world is dark. The days are warm, the nights are cold, the Day of the Dead arrives and we begin the descent into darkness. The battle of good versus evil rages far away (but oh, so close!) and we anxiously await for the monster to be vanquished and his apologists to slink away in shame. For me, the delicate thread of long relationship has confusing moments of fraying—how hard it is to sustain friendship and collegial comradery amidst the thousand ways we can misunderstand each other. But some things never disappoint— Bach’s cello suites, for example, or fingers flying fully released through the jazz changes. Trees that one can hug, the silence of following breath with crossed legs and erect posture, a night sky filled with stars. They all await patiently when the human world becomes unbearable.
And the darkness. It can accent our exile, our fears, our worry about the long night’s sleep from which we will not awaken or it can come as a welcome presence, a reminder that the busyness and business of the bright day is just half the story. It can bring us closer as we huddle together for warmth and comfort and get us singing a different kind of song, the bittersweet beauty of the minor key that touches other strings of the heart.
And so November. A low-stakes election before the big tsunami, my 38thturn of the wheel at the annual Orff Conference, an abundance of birthdays—daughter Talia, granddaughter Zadie, nephew Ian, old friend Debbie and the memory of my father and father-in-law. And of course, Thanksgiving, that oasis of simple family feeling around a table untarnished by Hallmark and the endless consumer culture.
Against the increasing decreasing odds, the world spins on and we’re still tied to it by the reliable force of gravity and some other world encouraging us to awaken against the terror of the ticking clock of climate change. The water boils for my morning oatmeal, a patch of light shows out the window as the day begins to break, the endless errands and chores await and then biking off to a Senior Center to sing and play piano. A line from the Incredible String Band (via Shakespeare) greets the month:
“All this world is but a play. Be thou the joyful player.”
Well, why not? Welcome November!