Me, I’m sad at the end of every school year. Those students and colleagues of my husband’s who have become such a big part of our lives and are now graduating or moving on to other jobs or retirement are about to disappear from immediate view. Even the ones who remain close with us after relocating are now to be infrequent contacts rather than the people we happily run into in the hall on a casual basis. I get lonesome for them even before anyone leaves.
The lovely inverse of this, happily, is the ingathering of ongoing and new compatriots as the school year is once more underway. New faces, new voices and new personalities are integrated into the weave of the community and once again it becomes the rich underlay of the year, the pleasant buzz of the bass line, the light up ahead growing ever so slightly brighter as the weeks and months pass and we travel through them.
It’s funny that I sort of forget this changing of the guard between times. Between my years as a student myself, the nearly two decades of my own teaching, and the time spent observing my husband and his colleagues at work, you’d think I would be so irrevocably inculcated with the cycles of the academic and concert seasonal years that I would have a sort of song of it playing internally at all times. In real life, though, I am not so consistently observant.
It’s only when I am right in the moment of it that I recognize what is such a piquant part of my emotional life and I mark these transitions. It’s in these times, in fact, that I most benefit from my spouse’s longtime practice of getting his choirs and groups to sing or play through transitions. In music, this helps performers to internalize a multi-movement piece as a whole and not be stuck performing it as a disjointed, choppy conglomeration so that it loses its sense as a unified entity. It helps a song avoid sounding horribly like a bunch of unrelated anecdotal verses interrupted by further disconnected refrains that act more like speed bumps than gateways between the events of the expedition.
In life, I’m working to find the balance between living and operating while fully engaged in the present, letting that part always be led by the best of the past, and moving toward the best of what is yet to come. I know I’m enjoying the present verse immensely even though some of the singers, players, conductors and teachers of the last semester have moved on to other places and joined in other songs, and I expect that the current moment will lead to yet more marvels of music and camaraderie. I just need to pay attention, follow the score, and be ready whenever a bit part is offered, because I keep humming along in the background and every passage tends to be more illuminating than the last.