Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Simple Harmony

Some algorithm tagged me for “Inspiring Quotes,” yet another thing to try to keep up with in the daily electronic barrage. But sometimes they have some good ones and today, this one hit home. Excusing the gender-specific and exclusive practice of the time, the message well describes my experience in these past few weeks— indeed, years and even decades.


Today I saw The Secret Song film at the Lark Theater in Larkspur, California, my ninth viewing and only two weeks after my eighth viewing at the Garden Theater in Frankfort, Michigan. Though I have memorized some of the dialogue, the infectious smiles of the children throughout the film still make me happy. It was fun to be interviewed afterwards by local celebrity Michael Krasny and especially satisfying to hear the testimonies from the audience about how the film touched them. Walking back to the car, I passed a restaurant where eight women were seated outside and they clapped! Sweet to be a minor celebrity! And at my age, it’s not any ego satisfaction, but the pleasure I feel knowing that they were enticed by the film to care about the same things I do— happy children, the power of music and the surprise of uncovering one’s own “secret song.”


When I first saw the film, I was terrified to see the honest mirror it would reflect back and the real possibility that my teaching wasn’t as good as I felt it to be on the inside. But it turned out that none of it was cringeworthy and instead, simply affirmed the fun I thought I was having with the kids and their happiness in us playing together. For better or worse, it is an authentic and honest portrait of what I have cared about, loved, worked hard to get better at and that indeed, there was no distance between the person I am and the life I’ve lead and continue to lead. I hope that’s true for all of us, but I know that such simple harmony is rare. Which makes me all the more grateful for all the seen and unseen forces that brought this to be. 


The release of the new book gives me the same feeling, the concert I soon will give at SF Jazz also the same, alongside the continued music at The Jewish Home for the Aged, workshops for music teachers. All these distinct parts of my life have converged together and are starting to reach out further than they ever have. Again, the only proper response is gratitude. And hope that it will keep on keeping on.


Getting up on that wheel of public appreciation and numbers of likes or readers or audience members has its own euphoric sense of dazzle— I’d be less than honest if I didn’t own that. But I understand it can be a slippery slope and needs to be balanced by yet more simple pleasures— playing poker with a group of men last night, cooking dinner with my daughter, walking in the park. It’s all part of the same continuum, the harmony between the me I want to be and the life I want to live. May it continue!

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