All things are created thrice.
1) First in the imagination, in the planning and dreaming.
2) Second in the living, the doing.
3) Third in the remembrance and recollection, the documentation and the sharing.
I first spoke of this to teachers as a guide to lesson planning. Live the lesson plan in your imagination (or in the early days, actually teach to an imaginary class), then teach the lesson, then reflect on the lesson with the purpose of considering what to adjust. And by all means, write down afterwards what you did for documentation purposes. ( I have 45 books in my closet outlining every class I ever taught at my school).
But this also applies to taking a trip. First comes the planning and dreaming. Not just the itinerary and hotel reservations and train tickets and such, but also imagining ahead of time the fun and excitement that awaits you. Then the trip itself, made larger by the anticipation even as it deviates slightly or dramatically from what you expected. Then leave some time at the end, not only to organize the photos and bore your friends with them, but recall those moments of leisure when you’re too busy, that sense of newness when things feel old, that pleasure of being open to the next surprise when life becomes too predictable.
And so I’m beginning a new and different writing project from my usual music activities or educational philosophy books, this more of a personal memoir/ travel stories/ culture celebration based on a year-long trip my soon-to-be wife and I took around the world in 1978-79. It began in England, Germany, Italy, Greece and continued to India, Nepal, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia (Java and Bali) and ended in Japan. It was a time when every place did not have Starbucks or even McDonald’s, when most people you met did not speak English, when thin-blue-paper aerograms picked up at American Express offices was the link to back home in a world that couldn’t even imagine e-mail/ cell phones/ texting and wi-fi even in remote villages. It made everything more complicated and challenging and difficult and unpredictable and that’s precisely what made it so glorious. It was an extraordinary time and proved to feed every aspect of my life to come— musically, philosophically, culturally and personally.
This is the project the orishas blessed (see last post) and after my first day of writing, there was a rare brief thunderstorm in San Francisco. Since Shango was the one who encouraged me and he is associated with thunder and lightning, should I take that as a sign? In a mere two days, I’ve written 22 pages and hit upon the formula of alternating between quoting passages from my extensive journals from that trip, written by a 27-year-old who had taught for 3 years at The SF School and just begun investigating various world musics, and looking at it from the perspective of the 70-year-old who taught for 45 years, studied Balinese gamelan/ Philippine kulintang/ Bulgarian bagpipe/ Ghanaian xylophone and drums/ Brazilian samba and more in the intervening years and traveled to some 50 other countries teaching music teachers. It makes for a stimulating conversation!
And how wonderful to relive it all, both through my journals and memory. In the closet is the extensive slide show we made when we returned and the 15 cassette tapes I recorded. Shall I dig them out?
Meanwhile, page 23 awaits me and off I go back to Italy!