Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Summer Music

Tchaikovsky’s first piano concerto just came on my iPod.  Coupled with the lush scents of summer air it brings to mind a concert I attended in the early 80s.  There was a guest pianist playing with the Philadelphia Philharmonic orchestra at their outdoor venue.  The pianist rendered this powerful and emotional music superbly.  The music swept up the hillside, both filling and carried by the summer air. As she graciously stood to accept the standing ovation I noted the pale yellow princess line dress, like a young girl would wear.  She then expertly played a more lighthearted encore.  The next day I read the paper and saw that the pianist was a 13 year old girl.  A child possessed such depth of life and focus and beauty to take us all on the journey through this music on that summer night.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


I took an English writing course taught by Professor Brancaccio my first semester at Colby College. I think I managed to drag my grade up to a C with innumerable rewrites of each paper before handing it in. That one course had more impact on my life than any number of other courses I took. By the end of the semester I knew what good writing looked like, could find and identify faults, and see where the reader would not follow. From that point if any class I took depended on a paper for the grade I got an A. It was not easy in the early days, first drafts were utter garbage. It took me 10 rewrites to get my thoughts formed and another 20 to polish my work, all done with a pen and pad of paper.

I remembered that course today while working on a poem. My skills are in prose so the poetry is challenging me. Professor Brancaccio did not teach me how to write rather he showed me the destination of my efforts. Once I knew where I was going, I was able to chip away at each paper until it became the piece I wanted. I am not gifted. I am skilled.

Life is like that. Once you know where you are going you choose your path with that goal in mind. You often must chose a rocky uphill path if your goal is on top of the mountain. Some participants may be happy to stay on the flat, enjoying the status quo. You need two things to succeed, a clear and understood goal, and the determination to work through the routes that will take you there.