Thursday, August 30, 2007

"The Office" (Workstation series) 31 (Indra's Web edition)

Back at the "Office" (campus satellite version). Meetings, lessons to give, CD artwork finalization, meetings with supervisees, etc.

The School of Music here is a very different place than I recall it being when we arrived seven years ago. Too many changes to enumerate, but one sea-change can symbolize many: there are now at least six self-identifying Buddhists on the faculty and we don't have to be paranoid about being ridden out of town on a Baptist rail (this in a town where, three years ago, a donated sculpture of the Windy Man, symbolic of the winds that blow all the time on the South Plains, was destroyed as "idolatrous" by some apeshit self-identified "Christian", at which the gutless City Fathers threw up their hands and decided the sculpture had been a Bad Idea in the first place). And, as of Tuesday morning, a tenured faculty member who's also certified to teach by the Kripalu Institute began a twice-weekly early-morning "Yoga for Musicians" class. For credit. In a state school. In West Texas. In the county self-identified as the "Buckle of the Bible Belt." The place about which Junior said to Karl Rove "I want a position-paper so simple even the boys in Lubbock'll understand it." A yoga class, full of undergraduates. Buddhists on the university faculty. Teach-ins against the war. The world is changing, whether the hate-mongers want to believe it or not.

Sixteen or seventeen years ago, when I was deep in the throes of being abused by the various suits at Indiana University who worked actively against my candidacy in Musicology, Dharmonia bought me a button which perfectly encapsulated my attitude about hanging tough for the long haul, but which I had to stop wearing because it made various of those (and other) dysfunctional suits too nervous, because, deny it as they might, they knew they were behaving unethically, unfairly, and with pointless paranoid cruelty, to me and hundreds of others. The button read

"Laugh while you can, but we'll be in charge someday."
And now, seventeen years later, we are.

I almost can't recall the last seven years--there have been so many events and so much change, in what is--in the context of a life--not very much time, that I can't keep track of them all. But I know this is a different place than it was seven years ago. And I know I'm in a different place than I was seventeen years ago. And not just because "we're" in charge.

But because, dammit, the world doesn't have to be an unethical, unfair, and cruelly paranoid place. We, each and all, can work to make the world better. It takes patience, and courage, and the ability to stick to the post and stay motivated with infinitesimally slow incremental change. But change does happen. This is of course drastically facilitated by working with compatibly hard-working and idealistic people, and it's one reason that Dharmonia and I stay here. I don't give a shit whether it's the Buckle of the Bible Belt--the people we work with (colleagues and students) are jewels, and we are blessed beyond measure to be counted among them.

The way we heal suffering in the world--our own and others'--is, to quote Katagiri Roshi, "Make positive effort toward the good."

1 comment:

Mac Tíre said...

I remember in my audition with said Kripalu Certified Faculty Member (wonderful yoga class by the way) mentioning an interest in traditional irish music. She proceeded to drag me to your office. I walked in and saw the massive shelves of books, the piles of cd's, a picture of a session behind your desk, and Buddhist symbols to the right. One of the strongest memories I have of that audition day (aside from the fact that I had almost broken my ankle on the way to the audition) is the comment, "I guess you can see where my allegiances lie." Even coming from a fairly red state, I was still more than a little concerned at being different religiously, musically, and politically in a place not really known for its openmindedness. I remember leaving that office thinking.....I can work with these people.

Your students appreciate what both you and Dharmonia bring into our lives.