The clouds sift fine, windless snow onto deck and branch here. I’m grateful for the view of seventy-foot walnut, maple, spruce and ash through this window – ah, there’s the breeze, dancing the straight down flakes into dervishes.
Driving this week has added three more verses and a bridge to my road song. It’s interesting that the road songs only come into my lungs and voice when I’m not on the 401, the 407, the 410 – they seem to have a speed and a geography to them. The songs need fields, barns with their lights on in the early morning dark, sundogs and fence lines held by a row of charactered trees, each bent differently to the sun and wind.
The cars on the road are all moving forward/ the cars on the road are all in a line… caliope-like. A road-dancing song.
I’ve been challenged by this Masters in the way I’d hoped, but couldn’t imagine, 20+ months ago. To read, efficiently, through a lens of discernment. To read in conversation with my self, and the other marvellous selves I meet each week in class. To ask, to listen, to respond only after hearing, in a way that counts, what you didn’t know before you asked.
I’ve come to understand that in the midst of the musical/academic clouds of curiosities and fascinations there is a point of focus where my attention can root itself. That if I find and claim that place of focus I can learn to tend the soil there, in the place where I am resonant and relevant. I have an idea that if I can do this, generously, a garden of understood things can grow there which in turn might nourish others, especially those still seeking their point of resonant focus, their who am I, in all of this?.
Not that I will ever stop asking myself that question, especially in the humbling context of so many other great, fertile musical thought-gardens. I’ve found some of those, and will always be in search of others. In the meantime I know I’m still figuring out the soil in this place I’ve found for me.
The ecosystem metaphor works – perhaps especially – if you perceive the process of decay and regeneration in human choice and culture. I’ve read excellent material written fifty, thirty, fifteen years ago that had enormous effect on the way we thought about ourselves, our music and our role on this planet – but it’s simply no longer relevant. Other written-down-thinking from the same eras, which barely caused a cultural ripple then, sings with great resonance now, in our time of rich challenge and undeniable change.
We know that trees with the deepest roots form the healthiest, mutually nourishing connections in a natural forest system. They hold centre for new growth to occur, provide canopy that connects steady enlightenment with grounded-ness, through blizzard, monsoon, heatwave, blight, drought. Others, once great pillars of the same place, eventually become habitat for squirrel, owl, woodpecker and insect, or fall and are deconstructed back into fertile soil. Both are important; there is no bad or good. Even parasites – vines that choke, species that invade, critters that burrow and divert streams, have their place and purpose.
My other school is this place of trees, an old terraced shoreline on the edge of Georgian Bay, where I bring my change and my books, my tired from driving and good lord, from thinking, and lay it all down – my questions, out of me and onto the ground. The lake answers, rhythmically. The trees answer too, but only if I slow my listening to one pulse a minute.
My curiosity and these issues of relevance, resonance, usefulness have a life here too, in these wonder-days of portable wifi and recording equipment. I am so deeply grateful for all of it, here under the sifted snow.