Sunday, October 30, 2022

Pebbles in a Pond

It’s Daylight Savings Time in Barcelona and I was just gifted with an extra hour. Next Sunday in San Francisco, I’ll get another hour. Don’t ask me how this works, but it’s a sweet deal. I’ll take it!


Now there’s no excuse to not try to catch up on the news here. Not the horrendous blather  in the papers, the beyond-belief stories of people carrying legal assault weapons and hanging around the voting booths, the attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband, the next wave of murders in Iran. The stories that hold hope hostage and send us cowering in the corner wondering why we bother to think that human beings were a good idea in evolution’s plan. 


Instead, simply reporting yet another workshop in Barcelona with 16 strangers instantly friends. The 16-year old neighbor of my host who told him “I want to be a music teacher” and came free of charge to see what that might mean. (Similar to the 14-year old that came in Galicia.) The five people that were coming for the first time to a workshop like this who might look back on this years later and remember, “That was the moment my life changed.”

Then there was the visit from a former student/ now colleague who teared up when she recalled that moment for herself some 12 years ago in a workshop she took with me in Madrid. My host who came up to me at the lunch break of another workshop in Spain who asked where he could study this more and when my colleague Sofia and I told him about our summer course in San Francisco expecting he might consider it for next year (it was going to start in two weeks), he came back after lunch and said, “I just bought a plane ticket. See you in two weeks.” And now is giving his own workshops throughout  Europe and South America.


I meet people like this wherever I go, people I had the good fortune to cross-paths with and open doors and watch them do the rest and assure me that this joyful life-affirming work will continue far beyond my physical presence. That they will open the next series of doors, are already changing people’s lives. It’s a great comfort to know this.


And of course, the majority of people may continue teaching more or less as they have, but at least with one or two ideas or three or four fun activities and dynamic songs, dances or instrumental pieces. It need not be a sun-breaking-through-clouds moment with a dramatic soundtrack to justify the good idea to spend four to six hours each day having a great time with people willing to play, to laugh, to invent, to recall some buried childlike-self peeking its head out.


I wrote to a fellow teacher recently about diminishing the gap between his doubt and his conviction. It is not easy to wholly own one’s way of being in this world, to stop getting distracted by that nagging voice of self-doubt. And of course, I hear that too and it doesn’t take much to get it blabbing in my ear. But a lifetime of joyful teaching with both kids and teachers has indeed strengthened my conviction that this work matters, that my part in it was meant to happen and is not done yet, that I can’t directly affect the daily news out there, but I can in here and right here and right now as I turn to teach the second day of the course before heading homeward tomorrow. 


So I’ll end with one of maybe ten poems that I’ve written that I still like, that I’ll stand by:


20 years old. Confident, cocky, sure that that boulder 

I will heave into the mainstream

will make a big splash in the world.

Each decade, the stone 

and the river 

got smaller.


At 60, that once-big splash a mere pebble

in a small pond.


But still it makes ripples, tiny rings 

that circle outwards 

and sometimes reach the shore

of someone’s life about to be changed.


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