Sally go round the sun. Sally go round the moon.
Sally go round the chimney pots. Every afternoon.
So goes the old children’s rhyme and game, Sally in perpetual motion circling the sun, the moon, the chimney pots by the hearth where the ashes are kept (from whence the phoenix rises) and orbiting these celestial and earthly bodies every afternoon. A while back, I created a ritual event around this that I sometimes do in workshops, complete with symbolic death, re-birth and the continuity of life. If you look deeply enough, children’s games are profound enactments and re-telling of life’s grand mysteries.
The preschool has a tradition in my school that on his or her birthday, the child circles around the sun suspended from the ceiling the number of years they have lived. With the 3, 4, and 5 year olds, this is a short little ceremony. But when the years have piled on each other as they have for me (it’s the evening before I turn 65), that’s quite a trip indeed. The last few years, my birthday has come during the Orff Level Training Course down in Carmel Valley and I have swum laps to match the number of years I’ve lived, trying to remember who I was and what I was doing during each lap. It’s a good exercise (and also good exercise!) and takes even longer than the preschool circles around the sun.
This past circle around has been extraordinary in many respects. Besides just the increased gratitude for the opportunity to take the trip that I always took for granted when I was younger, the months have been full and rich and rewarding. I’ve been blessed with the opportunities to give Orff courses in five continents, work with four Interns in the Fall, take 40 kids to perform in the San Diego Orff Conference and then again at the NAIS Conference in San Francisco. It was the school’s 50th year and 700 school families and alums came back for our big celebration. My wife decided to retire after 42 years of teaching, 41 with me by her side and there were multiple parties and farewells. Big events.
And then the time with the grandchildren, all the hours at the piano—in my home, at the school, at the Jewish Home, at the Palace Hotel. A memorable Social Justice field trip to Georgia and Alabama with the 8th graders, school concerts, plays and hundreds of classes. Though my heart has been heavy with the news and the election circus, the pleasure and power of music and teaching has never let me down for an instant.
My hope that next year’s orbit and more orbits to come with all be accompanied by the music of the spheres. And that American people will come to their senses and vote for our better selves, cast a ballot for hope and not fear. May the phoenix of healing and redemption and moving forward together rise from the ashes of our accumulated failures. May it be so!