They just fly.
Dad had come to live with me, back in my A-frame in River Falls, the previous year. I had a piano there - an older upright, still with all its ivories, but in need of tuning. Dad had moved on to his keyboard by then, anyhow. He would play the old favorites almost every day. Some of the notes were lost randomly, perhaps sharing a refuge with other lost parts of his memory, but play away he did, with gusto and joy. His music stayed with him, even when he'd forgotten the vast expanse of time between the end of the War and his current, constrained reality.
Yesterday, while I was sitting at the dining room table working on documentation for a consulting project, one of my AirBNB guests began playing Basin Street Blues, written by Spencer Williams in 1926 and later made famous by Louis Armstrong. It brought me back. It brought me back to the days when my sister and I would crowd in beside dad most nights after supper, singing along as he played song after song from the early part of the last century.
From my perspective now, that seems a simpler time, when supper was always at 6:30 and vegetables came from a can, unless it was summer. Memories are unreliable, however. The older they are, the more they tend to fade into gentle sepia tones, even though I know for sure the current reality was vividly colored by all spectrums of emotion and passion.
Perhaps it is easier now, with some wisdom or grace earned through countless painful lessons, to be less distracted by emotionality and more deliberate about the cultivation of joy. To make every shining moment matter in the present, because memories are unreliable at best, and you never know how long you will be able to play your song.
So "Thank You", I say, to my guest, who unwittingly brought to mind that the relationship between color and black and white is often just a matter of perspective, and that the goal, anyhow, is to play your song with gusto and joy.
Basin Street, Basin Street
Where the elite always meet
In New Orleans, land of dreams
You'll never know how nice it seems
Or just how much it really means...