You are never too old to set another goal,
Or to dream a new dream.
C. S. Lewis
I happened to read a column by Lewis H. Lapham the other day in which he was telling of his long ago in the 1950’s having nurtured the thought of one day becoming a writer, and on the advice of an instructor in English Lit., he attempted to form the habit of keeping a journal. He didn’t know what it was that he hoped to write and so he was glad to be told that it didn’t matter what went down on the page. Anything at all, the man said. “Describe something you saw yesterday in the street, copy out five paragraphs by Jane Austen, reconstruct a conversation overheard in a men’s room or on a train, make a list of exotic birds …;learn to put one word after another, like your feet in your shoes and maybe you’ll find out that you have something to say.”
I seized on these words avidly as I had been spending entirely too much time trying to find my Muse and offering the excuses, all the while, of being too old, too uninteresting and entirely without anything to say. To give you an idea of how extreme my procrastination was, I bought my last journal, a rather elegant leather bound easy to hold and carry, small notebook. I purchased it in the gift shop at the Museum of Modern Art here in New York, thirteen years ago! Made exactly two entries, thirteen years apart having discovered it again amidst this incredible melange of books, magazines and bibles that seem to want to take over my apartment.
Add to this discovery the fact that several of my friends upon hearing one or more of my life’s anecdotes have taken to suggesting that I write a book. An idea that I always reject vigorously offering the observation that no one would ever want to read about my life’s excursions which is code for my believing that no one could ever edit my excesses so that I don’t appear to be some wild, hedonistic fool rather than the mild mannered, reticent cleric that I think I am. Notice I said, “think.”
My barber, Eli is one of those pushing for a book every time I get in his chair. Actually, I believe Eli should write the book. He is the ever curious, non-stop questioner that loves to cut hair and is using his barber’s chair as a laboratory of experiences for the PhD in Psychology that he is currently working on. Eli also does a lot of work with young people and he is always insisting that my life stories could be inspirational to some of our younger brothers and sisters. I’m not sure I agree, but his approach is typical of that of many of my friends who I am convinced are just taken by the drama I manage to dredge up while telling my life’s anecdotes.
At any rate, what I’m really looking for with this blog, among other things, is a repeat of a rather enjoyable experience I used to have as a magazine publisher. The magazine I published,Stereo Review, marketed itself with the slogan “The World’s Most Widely Read Music Magazine.” My editors were some of the best music writers in the business and they all had the habit of writing short memos for circulation amongst staff about their reactions to the various music events we all attended nearly every night. When they learned I was an Opera buff they immediately suggested that I become a Patron of the Metropolitan Opera and they managed to secure, for me, two Grand Tier, aisle seats in the center of the Opera House, which I held for nearly 15 years. The catch. of course, was that I had to agree to write the short staff memo every time I made a performance. They had never been able to get a marketing oriented publisher to agree to this before. I jumped to it excited by the prospect of writing with such august colleagues. I also viewed writing about the performances of great singers such as Pavrotti, Callas, Domingo, Moffo, et al. as an opportunity to absorb some instant culture to add to my love for the music of Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and John Coltrane. I was fascinated by the prospect of hearing the voice used as an instrument by some of the best ever. Actually the experience really helped me to enjoy and understand, better some of my favorite operas. To be continued…