From the opening “Guten Morgen” song to the closing “Vem Kan Segla” with its line “Who can say goodbye to a friend without crying? “ (we couldn’t), we lived a life together in five days. “Orff Through the Ages” was the course’s title and we passed through them all, playing, singing and dancing literally with 4-year olds and 94-year-olds and also releasing all the layers of the children and adults we have been and have yet to become. We became our old 4-year old self, laughing with unbridled delight and got pin-drop silent in the midst of exquisite music that sang the beauty of the sunset of our lives. And every age in-between, with a song for every occasion, a dance for each situation we might encounter, a piece of music to unlock every faculty of soul lying dormant in our breasts awaiting the awakening kiss of the fairy-tale prince or princess. From the first gesture of our enticing beginning to the last hug of our satisfying end, each moment in the middle connected to the one before and led to the one after, the five days an unfolding symphony with a central theme that was announced, developed and recapitulated. Like a good piece of music, we left refreshed and changed and ready to re-enter a chaotic unmusical world inspired to bring more order and beauty to it.
From the one-day workshop to the five-day course to the two-week training, that’s what my workshop life has become. A chance to live a whole life in condensed form, one rich with meaning and alive with laughter and awash with tears, making a joyful noise unto the Lords of whatever names people choose and sitting in deep Zen silence listening to the music of a revealed world. We both feel the freedom of being a nameless small part of a glorious whole and standing in the center of it contributing with the full force of a character and personality and destiny that only we ourselves can be, fully claiming our little corner of creation in full sight of our comrades and companions.
Along the way, we dove into the refreshing waters of some 50 pieces of material, all worthy of children and intended to be carried back to them. We traveled back some 800 years and across borders to the cathedrals of Rome to the mountains of Bolivia, the fields of Bulgaria, the beaches of Nicaragua, the nightclubs of Ghana and flew on the wings of Mother Goose from Britain to the U.S. and Canada. We ran into the barriers of racism and social injustice and ignorance and the degradation of children and started to climb over through honest talk. We heard stories of our first unrequited love and the children we couldn’t reach and then did and the juicy gossip of the human drama held together by Old Doc Jones, the keeper of the line between fact and fiction.
That’s my life these days, creating an instant community with group after group, part of them all and each person in the group forever connected to each other person. (Sometimes literally—more than a few have gotten married!) Amidst every reason to be cynical, these people, along with the kids I teach, keep me ever hopeful of humanity’s promise to live together peacefully and joyfully. And if we have a conflict, why, we know the perfect dance to help deal with it, the perfect song to bring us back into accord. And we also know that dissonant tension is part of the beauty of music and necessary to that beauty.
Thanks to each of the 28 souls who walked that path together these last five days. May you bring a bit of the splendor into your year with children.