Friday, January 6, 2012
Keith Jarrett and the shoebox
The friend who gave the Keith Jarrett album and opened another door into music's vastness has been gone several years. Her memory visited me over the holidays, thinking of her caroling parties through the narrow lanes of a local foothill canyon, how we managed to increase our numbers with neighbors who grabbed their jackets, and a bottle or a violin, and fell in among us. Her name was Jane. We were reporters together, neighbors, and got ourselves tangled up in the drive to start a guild at our paper in a county, and a chain, that had no tolerance for organizing. Soon after, we slid over into advertising and public relations. At her memorial service we were each handed a box of Junior Mints. She occupies almost as much territory as real tinsel, hung a strand at a time, in the land of what Christmas once was.
There is a threshold over which we step and discover that not everything about the past still has the power to wound. Benign melancholy, bearable and casting an ochre-colored light over people and events, carries a warmth that doesn't deny loss but makes appreciation possible in spite of it. How much of life's sweetness is in spite of, rather than because of? Compare and contrast, as they used to instruct us on those long-ago essay tests.
Since the brain and heart, as organ or metaphor, do not require that much space within the body, I imagine all their contents fitting into shoebox. Tied with string for its creases and corners soon began to wear and droop, a shoebox was issued to each of us. Before we ever speak, we can tell our brethren by the battered parcel held close in the crook of an arm. There is comfort in acknowledging we have histories. Angella's post of January 6 introduced me to the characters from Showtime's Homeland, people whose pasts, it seems, are always with them.
If we were rocks, I think we'd be categorized as metamorphic. A simple sentence on-line tells the story: "Heat and pressure can change many things." Who we were travels forward with us. Where we've been and with whom somehow still leaves room in the box for what comes next.