Thursday, September 29, 2011

Past and Present

It’s been quite a while since I last wrote a blog entry, but I think it’s only because this place is becoming more of a home and less of a novelty. It’s a very good thing, I can feel it. The days fly by- mornings are always busy with running or Swahili lesson or hopping over to a market somewhere, then the days pass by all too quickly with students coming in and out of my room back to back, then suddenly it’s evening and perhaps I have something to go out and do or cook. Then all of the sudden, I’m back at home ready to crash in my bed! Monday starts and before I know it, it’s Wednesday night which means Thursday’s basically here which means Friday’s basically here which means it’s time to get ready for teaching on Saturday which means it’s time to get ready to do all of the other stuff we need to on Sunday which means BAM it’s Monday again!! You see how the time passes so quickly. And here it is, already near October.

It finally felt strange to me today, thinking about October arriving. It’s warm here and getting warmer and more beautiful each day. How odd it seems to know that the fall colors are just arriving back home and people are beginning to smell the first autumn breeze. I know my university campus must be gorgeous about this time, or maybe in a few weeks all of those gold and orange leaves will fall into deep, soft piles all around campus. When I think of that difference, only then do I begin to feel so far away. It doesn’t bother me… it is only a strange phenomenon to feel so at home so far away from my old home.

Last semester at Vanderbilt I made audio recordings of some of my private lessons with composition teachers, my organ teacher, and some conversations with friends. I listened to a few of them tonight and it spurred so many strange thoughts. In one of the conversations with a professor, he asked me what my plans for next year were. The conversation was recorded in mid April and I told him, “oh I have no idea! Nothing’s certain. I could be in Africa, France, Haiti, or Costa Rica.” He laughs and I laugh at myself now. It seems so recently, that lesson and that room … yet, I knew nothing of what I know now! What incredible adventures last summer held and the people I met who I’ll never forget. This job and the people here and the new language I’m learning… none of it was a part of me then.

It was quite dizzying, listening to that recorded conversation from Blair School of Music, because I would be listening to the vivid voice of my teacher and then suddenly a local Tanzanian dog would start barking. It felt a bit like how it feels to play organ—when your brain divides into several pieces at once and seems confusing only when you focus on what your brain is actually doing. Hearing these sounds from Blair and from Tanzania mix together… it was disorienting. The two places seem beyond distant. They are of different worlds.

I wanted to listen back to my lesson because I feel that I have forgotten what it was like when I was a student… only a few months ago! It’s a bit intoxicating to be a teacher every day, to be giving diligent advice to students, to hear yourself spouting out tips and demands-- the same that so many have given me over the years! I wish I could remember when and where I learned each bit of information I now offer my students, for it all just seems to come out, and from where I don’t know. When I listen to the recordings of my lessons at Vandy, though, I know that I miss that. The challenge and stimulation and thrill of grasping something new, taking hold of a better form of art. All I can say is that I feel so lucky to have been able to study art and music and life!! I’m realizing that transitioning out of college is learning how to keep learning in every day in life.


  1. Great, Awesome thoughts Pod. Love hearing your mind and spirit. I love you so.

  2. hi hi! i haven't been on blogger since basically you started writing, but i just caught myself up reading your entries since then. sounds awesome! i'm excited to keep up with your blog. check mine out for Blair updates, we miss you! i performed the hertel tonight with carl smith!


  3. You are what Art, Music, Passion, Compassion and Life are all about, Dani. Love you!