Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Soundtrack for Our Better Selves

Out of my routine, having spent four days with the grandkids while my daughter and husband tried to put their house back together after their mini-disaster of a basement flood way back in February. Happy to be of help, happy to be in 80-degree Portland weather, always happy to be with the grandkids (minus the unexpected little screams in the car!) and didn’t we have a fine time, exploring the wealth of beautiful playground and parks in this most-livable city. One day in company with old college friends and their grandkids and the next with my nephew and his kids. The usual card games (kids won them all), watching them scooter and skateboard, a game of basketball HORSE (kids won again! Malik making baskets at almost 6-years old!), a lovely dinner out. Oh, and getting to sing with Zadie’s 3rd graders in person! After a year of online music classes, I could actually hear them sing and see their whole bodies doing the motions. Less than ideal, outdoors with roaring traffic, masks on, too short a time, but still so sweet to keep my connection to kids. 


And then home, happily to re-unite with the piano, with morning meditation, with our kitchen, with our current TV series, the Danish Seaside Hotel (one of my favorites from the year's offerings).  (Less so with the freezing fog, but today looks sunny.) And then, joy of all joy, yet another Jazz History class, this one about the way jazz traveled around the world and the world brought it back to the U.S. to further widen music that already came from such rich blend of cultures. 


One of the students wasn’t there and after class, I found out why. I wrote this letter to the class this morning and invite you to join us to send your healing thoughts to someone who brings such joy to every occasion. Here’s the letter: 


Deep gratitude for yet another class of joyful music and important information. The poet Coleridge once said: “Every object properly seen (and heard! my addition) unlocks another faculty of the soul.”  I hope that as each classes widens further this extraordinary language contained in that tiny word jazz, reaches yet higher and digs down yet deeper, we can feel our own souls expand, discover hidden faculties that were in need of a voice to express them. We can feel the enormous quantity of music and dance and song and story we’ve touched on in over 60 hours as a soundtrack for our better selves. 


It’s strange how connected I feel to you all in spite of all the barriers of Zoom. It shows that technology alone will never connect us without something worthy to share, but it also can’t shut out the determined power of Soul Force in spite of its paltry two-dimensions. I feel us as a genuine community, bonded together by these shared experiences of witnessing the miraculous, considering and caring about the hard stories, feeling the inspiration of the efforts these musicians making that inspire us to our own greater efforts. 


And as Kofi and Herlin noted, a community of any size has responsibilities to its members. We are each other’s insurance companies, therapists, soul food service providers. I would like to feel that when one of us in need of one kind or another, we can turn to each other in confidence that others are there for us. 


And in this moment, one of us is indeed in need of our healing thoughts. I noted last night that Maria Olga hadn’t  joined us and after class, I found out why. She has suffered so much recently through her mother’s illness, recent political turmoil in Colombia— and now is in the hospital with pneumonia and COVID. Aaargh!!! So let’s send her the full measure of our individual and collective light and love. 


Maria Olga came to my jazz course and Level trainings in 2010 and beyond and then I had the good fortune to connect with her again teaching in Colombia. In that Jazz Course, we went to the Jewish Home as we always do and I remember her singing that classic Latin jazz song (how could I have forgotten to include that yesterday?!) Besame Mucho to my dear friend Fran. Who kept talking about it many years later. I also found a clip from that Jazz Class when we performed for the Intro and Master classes on the last day. The tune? Listen Here! (the one I mentioned yesterday). And Maria Olga is leading the dancers while playing guiro and that has a brief inspired guiro/dance solo! Watch it!  https://youtu.be/rcVqu0wPRXU


Maria Olga, I hope you are reading this and get to watch it and can feel our collective loving energy coming your way. We love you!  - Doug

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