It’s 5:30 am in Orivesi, Finland and it has been light for some three hours. My confused body, in canon with itself, managed four hours of sleep before the full day of teaching that awaits me. I’m spread out all over the place. Part of me is feeling the echo of the end of school and a soul-stirring graduation ceremony in our new Community Center, which just took it’s first step towards earning its name. Part of me is still thinking about the two movies I saw on the plane, while another is back in the 1920’s in Chicago with Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley Richardson about to go to Paris (the book is The Paris Wife by Paula McLain). Yet another piece of me looks at the date and notes the one-year anniversary of the passing of our faithful 18-year old cat, Chester. Part of me is confused that I can get online for my blog and access school e-mail, but can’t open AOL (and I know my eye-rolling friends are thinking, “Serves you right for being faithful to the dinosaurs!”). Another part is savoring a left-over dark bread with cheese and cucumber sandwich and yet another is starting to dream up the day’s classes.
But mostly, I’m feeling back home again in the “confessions of a traveling music teacher” that started this blog. As I’ve “confessed” many times, most trips nowadays are as much about re-connecting with old friends and new acquaintances as it is bringing the light of the Orff approach into a roomful of strangers. The first tier are beloved friends Soili, Terhi, Markus, 10-plus year veterans and partners-in-crime in our mutual passion of the joys and delights our work unleashes. Their ear-to-ear smiles and crushing hugs upon greeting me are just what the doctor ordered—people genuinely happy to see me, people who love who I am, people who deeply appreciate what I offer. And of course, it flows both ways. These are beautiful human beings doing superb work and our happiness upon reconnecting is mutual.
We walk down to the barbecue pit by the pond and there are some 70 students (the course began two days ago) who, as Soili put it, are “eagerly awaiting my arrival.” Some 20 are playing ukeleles (as big a hit in Finland as they are in the U.S.) singing Finnish songs and then switching to a “Welcome Doug!” improvised one. I was here exactly one year ago and over half the faces are familiar, some telling me of their successes with their children using the material I introduced last year. Sweet.
And so after a difficult time with some folks who don’t fully accept my “I yam what I yam” self and having being constantly on the defensive, I could feel every cell in my body relax its grip and start to breathe fully again. It's time to release myself into summer’s waiting arms, to return to the core of my work with more conviction, creativity, kindness, more determination to contribute. To savor the blooming lupine in the Finnish forest, the tranquil lakes, the fresh berries and yogurt and dark Finnish bread, the cleansing saunas, the light at all hours, the solitude of my little monk’s room with my book, journal and deck of cards, back in the home of my belonging.
Oh, yeah, and to teach a few classes.