Saturday, January 2, 2021

The Company We Keep

In the spirit of the old joke “I intend to live forever. So far, so good,” 2021 has been a great year! Spent the morning at the piano in company with Bach, Handel, Grieg, Chopin, Fats Waller and Sonny Rollins and then went to another gathering with Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Hopkins, Yeats and Frost, where I recited their immortal words by memory while walking through the park. And yet another gathering with actually physically present human beings, my old colleagues James and Sofia along with assorted friends in Alamo Square Park looking out at the Painted Ladies. (For those unfamiliar with San Francisco, those are houses.) Then walked some more with Michael Meade as his voice rose from my phone in my front pocket telling creation myths. 6.4 miles of energetic walking on a beautiful day in a beautiful city before I returned home, cooked dinner and spent the evening with the cast of the Danish mini-series Borgen  (highly-recommended).


We are the company we keep and if I’ve done anything right in this world, it has been choosing the presence of such pleasurable people to hang out. Including, of course, every child I’ve ever taught. Rumi says: “Be with those who help your being.” David Whyte suggests: “Anything or anyone that does not bring you alive, is too small for you.” Rilke says: “This is how he grows—by being in the presence of constantly greater beings.” 


And so it was fine to spend the first day of the year in such exalted company. It is a good start to what we all hope will move us from the stasis of despair to the movement of hope.


One down, 364 to go. 

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