In high school, a math teacher once asked us if we’d said “White Rabbit!” that morning. When we looked at him blankly, he explained that if the first words out of your mouth on the first day of a new month were “White Rabbit,” you’d have good luck for the entire month.
This morning, New Year’s Day, I said “White Rabbit.” Does that mean I’ll have good luck for the entire year? Or will I, like Alice’s rabbit, just be late for everything?
I’m not a big fan of new year’s resolutions, but today I decided that I’m going to make a few changes that are long overdue. One is to take up the recorder. Or rather, take it up again.
My dear friend Tim, who besides being the most amazing watercolorist (his work in oils is pretty fine too, but the watercolors really speak to me) is a lovely lyrical recorder player, had been prodding me for years to get a recorder of my own. In August of 2004 I finally broke down and bought an alto Yamaha. And I got the two beginners’ books he recommended.
A month later, when we evacuated to Tampa as Hurricane Frances was bearing down on us, I took the recorder with me. That week the recorder and I got to know one another, and I made satisfying progress.
But once back in the regular swing of daily life, the recorder was laid aside. I’d pick it up from time to time, but playing it never became a habit, and in the ensuing years, the poor thing languished. And it became a bigger and bigger bugaboo. That rosewood-colored beauty just sat there, mocking me.
This week a friend and I challenged each other to just play. For both of us, it turned out to be musical instruments that we once loved but had been neglecting so long that they were now fearsome, but we realized that just playing is very good advice in many areas of our life. We don’t need to be perfect at everything, don’t need to be professionals all the time. We can just play and enjoy whatever happens as a result.
Today I cleaned and assembled the recorder, and started playing with it. Not playing it, really; playing with it. I can’t begin to express the awful squeaks and squonks that poor recorder is making. A goose being beaten and strangled would make sweeter music.
An unintended side effect is that I now want to find my Sweet Pipes Recorder Books, which are in my office somewhere. I use the word “office” only because that is its official designation. For many months before Mom died, I barely used the office, instead working off my laptop, sitting in the chair next to her bed, and the office became a dumping ground for old papers, books, paraphernalia, and things that should have been thrown away a very long time ago. On top of the clutter and chaos is a thick layer of dust. And somewhere in there are those recorder books.
I need those recorder books. My alto Yamaha is in abject pain, judging from the noises it is emitting, and it desperately needs me to treat it with more educated fingers. So today, after I clean out the refrigerator, the big, BIG garage trashcan is moving into my office, and I will become an archaeologist beginning a new excavation. No telling what other treasures I’ll unearth.
Maybe I’ll even find the white rabbit’s gloves and pocket watch.