Monday, June 26, 2017


Someone once famously said, “Home is where when you show up, they have to take you in.”

Well, maybe, but there’s a sense of reluctant duty there. How about “Home is where when you show up, you are wholly seen and valued.” For me here in Brazil, “home” means that what some in other places perceive as arrogance here is felt as hard-earned conviction hand-in-hand with deep humility. What some in other places think is showmanship here is felt as vitality and energy. What some in other places feel is impractical for their school situation with all its requirements here is felt as a challenge to dream how to re-organize their school to meet the deep needs of the children. What some in some places choose to idolize like a celebrity here is seen as an invitation to the genius and greatness they carry within.

I have often said that the banquet of Orff Schulwerk can be one of the most delicious, nutritious and convivial feasts a human being can encounter in this life. But more and more I see that the most important question is, “What are you bringing to the table? Are you arriving with your own sense of vulnerability and humility, your open heart and honest understanding of what you don’t yet know? Are you coming with your own fierce determination to dream larger than what the mainstream culture hands down? Are you sitting down with the full measure of your artistry crafted over countless hours of dedicated practice? Are you walking through the door with your whole body, awake in all its senses and fully felt in its expressive eloquence? Are you entering with a rigorous intellect crafted through disciplined reading, writing, reflection and genuine thought? Are you greeting your fellow diners with sociability and respect? Are you coming with years of defeat at the hands of little children blossoming into deep understanding of how to give them what they so profoundly need, wrapped up in unconditional love?”

These 44 beautiful souls in my recent Jazz Course each came with their own mixture of the above and the result was that they were prepared to genuinely see, hear, feel, appreciate and deeply value what I offered, the fruits of my own rigorous 42-year practice of humanitarian promise grown from my own frailty, failings, breakthroughs and living by the light of my own brand of genius. In a reflection section, someone quoted a Brazilian saying about “life before this happened and life after this happened.” For many, this course was a watershed moment in which they felt they were not the same after as before, could not go back to that less-than-whole teacher-self they had been before their world blew open. (One called it a “musical shock of learning.”) Before there was the sense of wandering and wondering and now the feeling of having arrived “home.” Of course, a home from which their return to school may feel like another exile, but at least they have a clearer vision of what home feels like and some hints as to how to return their again and again.

And struggling through those four days of teaching 8-hours daily with a cough and often without a voice, this redeemed all the efforts a thousand-times over. What I had to offer was fully embraced and lived and loved and this helped me feel the deep healing of home. It’s a good place to be.

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