Monday, February 09, 2009

Day 22 (round III) "In the trenches" (oblivion edition)

In the main, I don't give a shit about fame, or recognition, or "permanence" (and let's not talk about money--I'm a musician and a teacher, right? I got over the money tip decades ago). I don't care about an inheritance, about a portrait on the wall, or about a row of titles on the bookcase, or 13 pages of C.V., or 360 unique hits in Google, or 9 CDs (to date), or hundreds of concerts, or hundreds upon hundreds of live gigs, or citation in others' bibliographies, or any of that shit. Not ultimately. Not really. That's not why I do what I do--why I get up in the morning, or settle for the short bread, or the long hours, or the confusion and non-comprehension from the general population, or the long, long, long rear-guard action we have fought for millenia against the forces in the culture that want kids to be raised scared, dumb, and passive--so that they can be more efficiently controlled. None of those are the real reason why.

I teach because I want to make a difference. I want the opportunities, sense of expanded possibilities, the recognition of the beauty that infuses the universe just behind the veil of suffering and alienation (samsara) which we think is existence.

And I want it for them: for my students--past, present, and future; formal and informal; momentary or permanent; voluntary and in-; intentional and happenstance--for every person who the universe puts in the way of whatever I can offer them.

I mostly didn't get that vision as a kid--I mostly had to invent, or discover, or (occasionally) stumble across the Great Teachings and Teachers which gave me that vision of how to be: a way of finding the sacred in the world. A lot of people in my generations sought to find the sacred in a lot of different ways, in the wake of the brain-dead suburban '50s and the hysterical, egocentric, homicidal '60s: to drugs, or Jesus, or "back to the land," or Gordon Gecko-esque Reagan-lite "Greed is good," or even hunkering down in a psychological foxhole and pretending the world was as trite, selfish, and pointless--as "nasty, brutish, and short"--as the Bush oligarchy wanted us to believe.

But just as I looked at the generations of emotional destruction I was heir to, and said "It fuckin' stops with me," I look at the endless possibilities which music opened for me, and I say, "It fuckin' starts with me." Any young person who ever needs help from me in any way, in realizing the possibilities that the universe provides, will get it. I will never turn that away.

I am convinced that the reason that artists make art--the art they would make whether there was an income, support, recognition, or even life itself or not; the art they make when the State threatens to kill them for making it--or follows through and actually does it--is their best, most eloquent, most lasting, most beautiful way of expressing love. The love that all humans, all sentient beings--the rocks and trees and birds and beasts and clouds and rivers and humans--recognize, behind the veil of samsara, to be the point of existence.

And teachers teach for the same reason. Forget my name, my publications, my recordings, my gigs, my works, my poems, my compositions. Forget them all. They don't matter to me. When a student pays it forward, helps another, makes beauty, practices compassion, eases suffering, it cracks open my heart.

That is all the legacy I could ever need or want.

I teach my students, and have for decades, and will, until I die, because it's the best, most eloquent, most valid, most lasting way to tell them something almost too deep, too simple, too profound to express (in the words of Kate Bush's magnificent Love and Anger: "Well, if it's so deep that you don't think that you can speak about it / Just remember / Someone will come to help you").

Because I love them.

Below the jump: sunrise light through the front-room windows, and Mister Man on the back deck with San Francesco.

Now playing: Kate Bush - Love And Anger
via FoxyTunes


the dearly deported said...

Right back atcha, Dr. Coyote. Nothing but love from me.

CJS said...

I know, son. I know.

TDH said...

"I want the opportunities, sense of expanded possibilities, the recognition of the beauty that infuses the universe just behind the veil of suffering and alienation (samsara) which we think is existence."

This is a very beautiful and powerful quote.

Mac Tíre said...

We love you too.

Sean said...

Maith thú, Chris.