Friday, March 29, 2019

Notes to a Future Self

Dear future self,

I don’t know how old you will be if you read this again or even if you will ever read it again. But just in case you do, I want to remind you how supremely happy you are here in Salzburg and have been almost every time you’ve come here. Walking along the Salzach River the other night, twilight descending with the evening birds, passing the familiar landmarks and the twinkle of the city beckoning me to search for dinner, I felt such a lightness in my step and such a gladness in my heart. My body was glowing with happiness, matched by the beauty of the surroundings. The hour-long walk got the blood flowing and the muscles sharpened while the echoes of a day of joyful teaching accompanied the rise and fall of the breath. 

We always want to analyze. Why are we happy? Why  are we sad? How can I preserve the former and avoid the latter? But better to just accept the grace of it all and be grateful. Would I be as happy being a tourist in Salzburg or living here as an ex-pat? I suspect not, that a good part of it is the enormous privilege of getting to share just about everything I spent my life cultivating in a place where the dream took root long before I joined the choir. The Orff Institut, that is. And with people who have devoted 9 months of their life to get the most nutrients out of this sumptuous feast and come to every class ripe and ready to receive. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

But then when class is over, to walk in joyous Solitude amidst the beauty, wander where my feet will take me, move from being someone special who has gifts to bestow to no one special who has gifts to receive from a benevolent universe— well, that is a large part of the unparalleled happiness I feel when here. Add to that the friendly ghosts of all the near and dear people who I shared this place with over almost 30 years—indeed, just about (but not quite) every important person in my life—adds a sweetness to the sauce.

Of course, while reflecting on the delicate conditions that birth this happiness, I wondered if this Special Course will continue to survive and thrive amidst all the changes at the Orff Institut. If so, will they still need me, will they still feed me, when I’m so much past 64? How long will my health hold up to make this possible? Will I ever lose interest in it? (This I can’t imagine). Humans are the only corner of creation that have the mixed gift and curse of thinking ahead and sheer logic tells me that of course this won’t be forever. It is bound by time and time’s passing and I may or may not have the equanimity to accept that when the time comes.

But future self, if you are reading this, it will either be with the pleasure of being able to tell this past self that indeed you continued to walk these same steps along the river banks, perhaps are walking them having just read these words, or things have indeed changed and you’re either lamenting or assuring me that though this chapter ended, the simple fact of having done it for so long and with such happiness helps you endure it and remain more grateful than nostalgic. Who knows?

Meanwhile, just to remind you once more how sweet it is. Played a lot of jazz on a keyboard at a Jazz-it Jam Session last night, taught four 90-minutes classes today, ate lunch in the sun-drenched park after four days of rain, went to a Nepalese restaurant with these 17 beautiful souls and had fun with games and music and great food. Tomorrow another 6 hours of classes with them and the next day, I’ll be the tour guide for my favorite bike ride around the edge of Salzburg. And then still four more days after that!

Be well, future Self, and hold these memories close to your heart. You were blessed and you knew it.

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