Finding Joy in the Season

Those of you who read my blog (thank you) know I have not written much lately.  This past year and more recently this season of fear and anxiety, have made it hard to focus on things other than the daily unfolding of disappointment and alarm that permeates the news. It is always my intention, in these postings, to stay above – or at least to one side – of the political, paying attention to in-the-moment moments from my own experiences that I feel may resonate with you.  So with the deep uncertainty of the coming new administrations, as we leave the third year in a row with record global temperatures, and with a thunderstorm in mid-January raging around the house, I am trying, today, to find and savor moments of joy.

There are the little things – my two sweet cats who daily fill the house with their calm grace.

Shy Cosette safe under the tree.

Shy Cosette safe under the tree.

My first Christmas with an artificial tree that was so beautiful and perfect I did not want to take it down.  The cards and Holiday letters from friends far and near that filled my mailbox in the final weeks of the year with news and warm wishes.

I must mention my terrific students – I recently began teaching in the undergraduate Arts Management program of the Conservatory at Baldwin Wallace University.  Just before the Holidyas I graded final exams and am so happy at the large number of talented young people in my class who got ‘A’s. I am also overjoyed to have this new useful skill (teaching) to develop at this stage of my life.

Coyotes Tex, Red and Ember (l-r) on the roof of a den at the Wildlife Center

Coyotes Tex, Red, and Ember (l-r) on the roof of a den at the Wildlife Center

Just a few weeks ago I had something close to a perfect day.  I volunteer two days a week at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History – I am a “steward’ (like a docent) in the new Perkins Wildlife Center.

River Otters in the Wildlife Center

River Otters in the Wildlife Center

That job means being both a kind of guard and a guide for visitors: guarding the animals from the few ‘unaware’ folk who sometimes come, and guiding most of the visitors to learn and care about the animals. It is a pure joy to be in that amazing and beautiful space in such close proximity to these wild creatures.

One of those wonderful days ended with a Cleveland Orchestra concert at Severance Hall.  There was a guest conductor (Jaap von Zweden) and a pianist (Danil Trifonov) neither of whom I knew. The program was a Britten Requiem (not the War Requiem), Mozart’s Piano Concerto #23 and the war horse – Beethoven’s 5th Symphony.  I was tired – having walked with the animals for 4 hours that day, but I had a date, so I looked forward to sharing time with a friend, even though I was not all that excited about the concert. I didn’t really need a Requiem just then, the Mozart was not my favorite (19 and 21 are) and I thought; what new could I hear in the Beethoven?

REVELATION! After the somber but compelling Britten, the rest of the concert was unmitigated joy. The pianist’s interpretation of the Mozart had the whole audience smiling and jumping from their seats at the end.  We were rewarded with an encore. And the Beethoven!  I must say I’ve heard some wonderful interpretations, but this was as if every note was new and fresh – as if written that morning.  Up in the second row of the balcony, we all just could not stop clapping and grinning at each other.  What a beautiful, joy-filled shared experience with friends and strangers!

There have been other joyous moments in this dark time, of course.  I just want to keep reminding myself to savor and treasure them.  Each one adds a coin to the scale on the side of optimism.

Comments

  1. Ann Mullin says:

    Sounds like you are up to fun and inspiring things!

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