Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pass it on.

So here's something interesting: before we convened last night at choir to talk about what we'd like to do with our reverse-offering, some email suggestions went back and forth and I found that my knee-jerk reaction to the suggestions about arts initiatives was "that's not important enough."

I probably don't need to deconstruct all of this for you socialist-leaning hippies, but I was intrigued by my own reaction. I had to have a little talk with myself. I've written before about how I don't think that art is a luxury; I think it's basic to human existence, and there's practically a fossil record supporting this assertion. It's no coincidence that in oppressive regimes, the arts are heavily censored, if not banned outright; the Taliban, for example, beat and jailed people for listening to music and for singing, and destroyed the folk music archives in Kabul. Musicians in Afghanistan risked their lives to bury their instruments for future retrieval rather than destroying them outright.

I've also written about how lucky I have felt that artistic endeavor was always supported in my family, and about how no one has ever really tried to make me feel like music isn't important. But apparently I've still internalized some of those messages about "well, people need to feed their families." By that logic, the only charitable efforts worth supporting are those that produce and distribute food.

The thing is, artists need to feed their families too. The folks driving the WPA realized this, during the Depression: the program included massive arts initiatives designed to keep the arts local and to harness them to support public goals, all the while employing unemployed artistic professionals. I am not kidding you when I say I get a tear in my eye when I read about this.

So then we met up last night and I suggested we fund a scholarship to a local music school, which is in the economically- and culturally-diverse neighborhood of the church, and that spiraled out into other suggestions about underwriting a concert for the school's students, or buying instruments, or what have you. Something, in other words, that would connect us to people around us, support the arts, and possibly have far-reaching implications for the students whose lives are improved by participation in and learning about music. And then I volunteered to head up the effort.

All of this happened about an hour after I had a comic phone commiseration with the Brit about how much I enjoy being passive, and how put-upon I would be at rehearsal that evening because our director was out sick and I wouldn't just be able to sit there and go la la la. I was also moaning, half-joking but maybe not even half, about the fact that my jobby-job is becoming less passive. In some ways I liked things better when I was just entering crap onto a spreadsheet. His job has become exponentially less passive as of late, not that it was ever passive, so he was feeling it too.

However, and this is a pattern with me, even if I don't look forward with pleasure to taking an active role in something--whatever that something may be--once I am doing it I am invariably happier. It's true of teaching, running a rehearsal, standing up to do nebulous training of supervisors, even and maybe especially exercising. I think it's my introvert and extrovert duking it out for dominance. Whenever I do a Myers-Briggs test I always end up right on the line, sometimes leaning more one way, sometimes the other.

In a not-unrelated episode, I had to get to work early yesterday and I spent about 15 minutes trying to decide whether I would bike or drive, bike or drive, bike or drive. All told it would have given me about 15 extra minutes to dink around if I drove, but the longer I hemmed and hawed the closer I got to having a decision made for me by Father Time rather than by my own agency. This is also a pattern, and an annoying one, let me tell you. Finally I got irritated with myself and was like "what is your PROBLEM" and I took off on my metal steed, and of course it was brilliant.

To sum up: I left choir last night feeling weirdly energized, enough that I snorted at myself about my entire day and how easy things can actually be and I said out loud "STEP IT UP."


  1. You know you're getting serious when you start calling it your "metal steed." Awesome.

  2. Dazzling post and insight.

    Also, the idea is brilliant.

  3. well said. you are awesome.

  4. Killer idea. And I will echo your general awesomeness.

  5. So great.

    I have to remember this idea about being happier once doing an activity that may have been dreaded. That's true for me as well, but I generally forget that truth.

    Maybe a tattoo of the information, in reverse, on my forehead.