When I planned to take the periodic solo day we each do about once a month, I wasn’t paying attention to the calendar, it’s just that February first was the first day that Bicentennial Campground was available and I grabbed it. I love that place, a tiny three-space primitive campground tucked into the Marin Headlands, way off the road from anywhere to anywhere else. I make a reservation for a tent, but don’t pitch one at this time of year. It’s much easier to just put my sleeping mat and down bag in the back of the Prius and stay overnight in the little secluded parking space. This time I knew nobody else had a booking, and I would have it all to myself. It’s so weird and wonderful to have such beauty and silence available within sight of the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge.
It wasn’t until sunset that I remembered that it was Imbolg, Brigid’s Day. Imbolg translates loosely to “in the belly,” the time for deciding what intention you will invite to make you pregnant for the rest of the year. Wow. What serendipity, to be in this sacred place where the land opens to the vast ocean, and to have the whole night in green silence.
After long inner rummaging I chose three things: to invite the experience of joy whenever possible, to tell the stories I have to tell, and to work steadily on getting rid of things that are no longer necessary. I’m working on all three.
Joy comes to me in many ways, and one of them is music. I was recently gifted with someone’s cast-off baby grand piano and have been slowly and steadily reclaiming the neural pathways that were ground into me in my years of being wedded to the keyboard. I chose one major short work for an initial focus, because it’s what propelled me into being an actual musician, not just a clever performing seal: Bach’s E-minor Sinfonia. Not the bravura flash I’d been proud of: a gorgeous spare structure of repeated phrases and harmonies, a beauty that can bring me to tears. It turned my head around when I was seventeen, and it’s a joy to embrace it again. Like the experience of performing Macbeth for sixteen years, time has opened new doors in this iteration.
We were in the car getting our regular Sunday sushi before heading to the ocean, and Vivaldi was on the radio. For an instant it didn’t click and I thought oh, Bach, then realized, no, dummy, it’s one of the Four Seasons. It was summer when I went into the store and late autumn by the time I came back. I was reveling in the energetic harmonies and told Conrad, “I love Bach, but Vivaldi really knows how to party.” It was the perfect send-off to the afternoon at the ocean, a surge of joy.
Today I’ve been thinking about how much joy I have at my beck and call in my head, all the music that’s there on my own personal memory-channel. I was in the chorus at Interlochen National Music Camp the year we did Verdi’s Requiem, and I can still pretty much listen to the whole thing in memory. That moment when the quiet choral plea, Requiem eterna dona eis domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis, suddenly erupts with a full-bore tenor solo demand, Kyrie Eleison. Our tenor was a very large man with a voice to match, and when he burst out of that meek harmony with the golden trumpet of his voice, my heart nearly burst through my ribcage. When I’m listening in my mind, it still does that. Every time.
Edith Piaf singing Milord will reduce me to tears in a nanosecond. When Orff’s Carmina Burana gets past the big bold intro to its last segment, O Fortuna, its erotic build puts Bolero in the shade. Chicago blues could wake me from the dead. I love listening to music, live or recorded, and I am also blessed to have my own streaming collection in my cranium.