Thursday, May 17, 2012

Connecting the Day's Events

A few things from the day:
  • I got a compliment on my soccer coaching by a parent of a kid who isn't even on the team I coach. Rather than totally deflect the compliment, I breathed a moment and thanked the person for it.
  • In a catalog sitting on the arm of the couch as I type is a fountain pen that costs $379 and is totally gorgeous. A work of art.
  • My wife is working on convincing me that our daughters shouldn't ride in the front seat of the car until they are sixteen. I'm disagreeing with this.
  • I'm listening to U2's The Joshua Tree and it is as exquisite today as it was the first time I heard it as a midnight album played straight through on one of the stations the day it came out.
  • My oldest daughter had a choir concert tonight but there is no choir her for next year because too few American tax payers and school administrators see value in kids learning through music. 
An extravagant fountain pen would be lovely to have, but I already have two good fountain pens. The first is large-barreled with a scratchy nib. The has a gold nib and I see why people pay extra for such things. It's as smooth as any pen I've ever held. The ink just glides. I can't justify buying a $400 pen, but I don't have to buy it. Some things are meant to be dreamed of.

Other times it's better to realize the facts instead of staring off into the stars. That's why I'm glad I was able to accept a compliment tonight. I usually turn them aside by saying that I can do better. Hearing that I've done well is tough for me to bear. If I accept the compliment, I feel as if I have settled for too little. Foolish thinking, I know, but tough to unlearn. Tonight, I stayed present and it was good.

Still, I wonder how the pros survive compliments. Bono is working his way though "One Tree Hill" and it's a pretty damn good song that was preceded by a great song and followed by another. I remember when Joshua Tree came out U2 was the toast of the town. They had produced perfection. I wonder if they were tempted to check out, break up the band, go out on a high note. How do you stand up to the acclaim? I suppose you believe in yourself and make the next move even though people are doubting that you can ever top what you just did.

Maybe you survive by not thinking of topping things and just doing what you love. Nutty idea, that. I'm not sure that people outside the arts can understand an idea like that. It's not about selling more albums, though I'm sure it's nice to sell lots of albums. There is something larger than the pursuit of dollars.

But don't tell that to the bean counters, political hacks, and everyone else who sucks schools dry of money. Music programs don't matter much because the tests are in English, math, social studies, and science.

Music matters to me. It matters to my daughters. It matters to everyone's children. It should matter to everyone.

Here's the thing: we're in the driver's seat now, but they're going to take the wheel soon. That's good. It's why I like having the girls up front in the car every so often. I want them to see the world coming at them, be prepared for it, feel comfortable in it. If we leave them in the backseat and do all the driving, what can they learn?

I don't trust Mitt Romney or Barack Obama to make decisions for my girls. Neither school administrators nor the mayor will have my daughters' best interests in mind. Bono is taking care of Africa, maybe The Edge will campaign for music education in the US. Maybe Springsteen will take on that challenge.

I do my part for kids by coaching soccer and attending school concerts. I'll write a check tomorrow to support the music program in our school. It's better than buying a $400 fountain pen? I don't need one of those anyway. There are so many other ways to write on.