Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Long Life


Such a mystery is time. 10 years ago to the day I was in Toronto when I got the news about my Dad crossing over to the land of the Ancestors. I was teaching the same World Music Course then, though of course not the same because no Orff workshop river that we step into is ever the same. And 54 years ago I was here with my Dad for my first foreign trip, the one where I experienced my first puppy love at 12 years old with a girl named Lizzie and memorized a license plate number I still remember—B23-882.

 The going wisdom is that life is short and passes in a flash and thinking that it has been 10 full years since my Dad left us, that seems true. But that life I lived 54 years ago—well, that indeed feels like a long, long time ago. And it was. My Dad was a young 45, my Mom 42, Kennedy was still with us (but not for long), The Beatles were about to share the top ten on the charts with Louis Armstrong, Roy Orbison, Barbara Streisand, Al Hirt, the Beach Boys, the Supremes and Astrud Gilberto. Cousin Brucie was still the DJ on AM radio, Martin Luther King was about to deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech and the world was such a different place, for better or for worse. We were about to launch the cultural revolution that would change the landscape of the 1950’s value system and open the gates to more life, liberty and happiness.

All the work that has now hit a wall and is in danger of unraveling. But the strength of those changes, now being severely tested, is perhaps stronger than we thought as the attempt to bring it all down keeps meeting both legal and ethical blockades.

Well, mostly I wanted to evoke my Dad and the long life we shared and you see how quickly it can become something else. Things my Dad wasn’t particularly interested in and had the luxury and privilege of letting them pass. But that was his time and his way and his children and grandchildren are moving far down the path he chose not to enter, dedicating themselves in their own way and at their own pace to the balance of living the life cut out for them while dedicating themselves to social justice. He would be so proud of his first grandchild as mother of two and writer re-dedicating herself to her talent, his second doing such extraordinary work as a teacher, his daughter still dancing and practicing Buddhism, his son keeping up with the piano practice unfurled all those years back by Mrs. Lutz down the street, while teaching so happily so many different people in so many different places. And likewise the unfolding of my nephew’s life paths.
So in this wandering writing, remembrance of my father joins with political reflection and the uncanny workings of linear time, whose complexity I can’t capture in this net of words. Just my astonishment that all those previous selves and times and incarnations live in this mortal body, loosely connected by some thread we call self. And so it goes on.

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