Wednesday, December 15, 2021


At 70 years old, I’m still trying to figure out what I’ll be when I grow up. Like Horton, I sometimes feel that I’m sitting on someone else’s eggs. I know I will never be on the concert stage playing Scarlatti, Bach, Chopin or Debussy, but nevertheless, I persist in trying to make my daily one inch of progress bringing their music to full blossom. Likewise, Wynton Marsalis or Josh Redman will never call me to play piano on their gig, but I keep adding to some 300 jazz tunes I can make my way through just in case they do. Most every day for 11 years, I post on this Blog, along with writing countless articles and publishing 10 books, but the New York Times Bestseller List will continue to ignore me. I sit zazen daily, as I mostly have for each day for 48 years, but nobody will ever call me Roshi or ask my advice as a spiritual teacher. Though the eggs these practices hatch will never wholly be mine, like Horton, I’m faithful to them all, 100%.


But the nest that is my true home, no questions asked, is Orff teacher. With adults of all ages, occasional college and high school students (but not enough!), preschool through middle school kids, this is the place I come wholly alive and feel fully confident that I have something valuable to offer. This is where I wholly belong.


Like yesterday, when I had the supreme privilege and pleasure of working with 7th graders, one group who I had briefly taught last week and the other new. I’m supposed to be observing the teacher (Yari) who hired me to be his mentor, but after last week’s class, he asked me to do another introductory lesson and then we would split the group for the remainder of the class. With his blessing, I ended up teaching the whole hour-long class of each group and it was glorious. I came into class so happy to see the 24 kids I worked with last week and equally happy to meet the next group. That happiness one of the signs that you’re sitting in the right nest on the right eggs. Yari told me that when he announced the other day that I was returning to teach a bit, the class cheered. So it seems they were also happy to see me and when the two happys meet with a good class plan and some solid musical skills (thanks to Yari!), you can bet something even happier will happen. And it did. Great energy, great spirit, great music that was really started to groove.


And so it struck me. I think I’m perfectly content to make omelettes at home with the eggs of a long career of teaching (or roast the chickens from their hatching?), but without knowing it, it turns out I really miss teaching kids! The idea of diving back into 7 classes a day has no appeal, but at least one group once or twice a week feels delicious. And though I know I would love the 3, 5, 7, 9 year olds (even numbers too!), somehow this middle school age feels particularly right. I need them and they need me. It looks like Yari and I might collaborate for a January concert, so while I will step back and give him the floor, it looks like I can keep the connections going. And maybe my own school will finally let me back someday to sub for colleagues James or Sofia or be part of an afterschool project. Wouldn’t that be fine? 


This is just to say that whether it be my nest in my preferred tree or someone else’s, this elephant’s faithful to that which brings happiness, healing, harmony and hope, that hatches the eggs of our humanitarian promise. 100%.


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