As I approach my third-score year of life, I no longer trust the easy answers of my youth. So many grand plans have turned to ashes. I have achieved some modest success, but to a much lesser degree, and at far greater cost than the wild enthusiasm of youth ever could have imagined.
As a teen I was fortunate to have a wise music teacher–he was as old then as I am now. He wrote poetry. One poem in particular rang true even as a youth, and rings even more truly now. I learned it by heart (where else does poetry and music belong, but by the heart?):
I am a stranger here.
For many years I did not know
Why the moon shone living and clear
Or the rain spoke strangely among the stones
Or the wind in the trees was near.
The ones who placed me within this frame
In the Land beneath the Sun
Forgot to connect a pair of nerves
And left other things undone.
And though we are bound by a common need
My body and I are not one.
Who are my people? Where is my land?
I don’t know. I cannot say.
But this I know: the ones I love
Live in a land far away.
A land that this one reminds me of,
Sometimes, on an odd cast day.
This evening I’ve just returned from giving an armonica performance–in an opera called Lucia di Lammermoor.Lucia is forced to marry for money because of her family’s precarious finances, even though she loves another. Lucia kills her groom on their wedding night, goes mad, and drenched in blood she sings a duet with the armonica.
It fits my troubled mood. In my imagination, over and over, I hear Lucia sing and I feel the glasses beneath my fingers as I drift to sleep…
And I awaken in ‘a land far away’.