Sunday, September 1, 2019

Opening the Windows

It’s September and in San Francisco, that means summer. I’m writing this dressed in shorts and the sun is shining. After a Sunday bike ride and Farmer’s Market,  I entered my house and noticed it felt a bit stuffy, stale air with nowhere to go but hang heavy in each room. So I decided to do something I almost never do—open every window in the house and let the breezes blow! I can feel them as I write and house seems happy, breathing again. 

Isn’t that a good idea? With minds and hearts as well as houses. We spend so much time cramped in our own familiar rooms without even noticing the fusty and musty air of our thoughts and feelings. Why not open the window? Let a fresh breeze blow, hear the bird in the tree outside, maybe even stand there and greet a passing neighbor? There’s nothing wrong with our house that we’ve so carefully furnished and decorated, but no matter how lovely, we could all use some refreshment. The open window is a good metaphor for more inspired music-making, feeling the given notes as the brick and mortar and then daring to improvise a bit beyond the given, open the window to new ways to phrase or express the familiar, new ways to re-compose the rhythms and melodies handed down. That’s the secret of the perpetually renewed artist, keeping the shades up, at least some windows open and being attentive to what blows in on the breeze.

At the other end, we often have this mania for constant change these days. Gandhi famously said, “I keep the doors open to the winds of all cultures, but I refuse to be blown off my feet by any of them.” So many schools have opened the windows just a bit too high or at the wrong time and the winds of the educational-fad-du-jour blow all the worthy papers off our desk helter-skelter. Like everything, there is an art to window-opening. When to do it, how many to open, how often and for goodness sakes, not during hurricane season or in the midst of blizzards! 

Today is just right for my house and the air is delicious. Happy September!

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