My dad has died. Twenty-seven hours ago, now. Oddly, I have no sense of his absence, rather a steady, gentle regard, a muscled arm around my shoulders as I write and work.
There are tears, of course. Of course. When Dave quotes Hamlet in an email,
Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince; And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
….and as my heart swells, flipping through photographs posted by dear old friends who have taken and gathered them over the years,
Dad laughing, dad dancing with my sister, Jim in deliberate consideration of a thought, a feeling, Jim goofy for the camera, Jim with his muscled arm around my daughter’s shoulders, walking with her through the giant trees.
But today is Masters Capstone day, and he insists, gently, powerfully, that I present my research with clarity and integrity. That I deliberate, pare down, find the nugget of truth, and honour it with simple elegance.
He, and I, insist – that I ingest all of this ink, this complexity of academic theory, this gravitas and make it light, for the camera.
I don’t have enough time, of course. Of course I don’t. I remember dad, chewing his thumbnails while driving us into school in the mornings… writing lesson plans in his head.
Not enough time.
But I know from experience that the best music is made this way. Come at the gig all swollen with intensity and feeling, push the details into play at the very last minute.
IN the moment when you begin, and can release what you’ve internalized in all the long weeks of preparation, there is a lightness of being. A rightness.
The gig starts in eleven hours, I don’t have enough time, the details are not in place.
But the work of deliberate consideration and paring down is done. I have the elegant nugget now, safe and glowing within my ken. In every hour then, I’ll slap another detail into place.
Then I’ll get goofy for the camera.