Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Urban Farm

After nine weeks of shelter-in-place, the days have names again. Things started off like Groundhog Day, one day pretty much like the last and promising to be like the next. But we are rhythmic beings and if our job or school doesn’t offer it, we will create the routines that sustain us with that needed balance of repetition and variation. 

The calendar I have lived by became nothing but scheduled events crossed off, but now a new blossoming of things to prepare for and look forward to have inked themselves on those blank pages—three different workshops filling up each Saturday, the virtual Men’s Group Wednesday’s and while my last school May Spring Concert, Samba Contest and my retirement party have been cruelly erased, discussions have begun as to how to create some new version of our closing ceremonies and graduation.

Then the week itself has taken on a shape and design. At least one live class each day and each—5-year olds, 4thgrade, 8thgrade—drawing from a different room in my teaching storehouse. Still the weekly Staff meeting, the weekly check-in with my colleagues, the recorded weekly Singing Time. 

And then my life outside of school. The Thursday Alum Singing time, the Friday live-on-the-street neighborhood sing, the Saturday online workshop, the Sunday shopping listening to Ann Patchett’s new book on Audible while waiting in line, the weekly dinner with my daughter in her back yard, the Zoom call (and now online Pictionary game) with the grandkids. Not to mention the inspired cooking, daily piano playing, afternoon bike ride, evening TV Mini-Series (now The Amazing Miss Maisel) and such. I could—we all could—sit and fret about this unprecedented pandemic and that will weave itself throughout the days. But how does that help? If we all take who we are and what we’ve been handed and actively shape the best response and enjoy what we can of each day, I believe it can help us write the future we’d like to read. I’m not suggesting head-in-sand repression—we indeed need to keep informed and abreast of the essential news. But a few minutes a day is probably sufficient, tucked into the most life-affirming routines we can create. 

So what is this Urban Farm? Am I planting a Victory Garden? Well, I could and perhaps should, but I’m referring more to the variety of activities I’m now attending to each day like the varied life of a farmer. Feed the pigs, milk the cow, stack the hay, plow the field, tune-up the tractor, the endless list of things that need attention. My farm routines are much more abstract, but have a similar quality of noticing what needs attention and trying to keep track of it all minus the outwardly imposed schedule with kids showing up at my music room door. 

So off to write some music notation sheets for my 5-year olds. What’s on your schedule today?

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