commitment

Coming Home

"Coming home to someone is many things. It is a literal action, an abstract idea, a physical feeling. It is more than the sound of the key turning in the door and the voice that calls from the porch. It is a choice, a promise, a declaration. It is a return, not as a person to a place, but as oneself to another. It is one individual saying to another: ‘You are the one I choose’."

~ source unknown

Étude

Excerpt from "Find What You Love and Let It Kill You" by James Rhodes:

My life involves endless hours of repetitive and frustrating practising, lonely hotel rooms, dodgy pianos, aggressively bitchy reviews, isolation, confusing airline reward programmes, physiotherapy, stretches of nervous boredom (counting ceiling tiles backstage as the house slowly fills up) punctuated by short moments of extreme pressure (playing 120,000 notes from memory in the right order with the right fingers, the right sound, the right pedalling while chatting about the composers and pieces and knowing there are critics, recording devices, my mum, the ghosts of the past, all there watching), and perhaps most crushingly, the realisation that I will never, ever give the perfect recital. It can only ever, with luck, hard work and a hefty dose of self-forgiveness, be "good enough".

And yet. The indescribable reward of taking a bunch of ink on paper from the shelf at Chappell of Bond Street. Tubing it home, setting the score, pencil, coffee and ashtray on the piano and emerging a few days, weeks or months later able to perform something that some mad, genius, lunatic of a composer 300 years ago heard in his head while out of his mind with grief or love or syphilis. A piece of music that will always baffle the greatest minds in the world, that simply cannot be made sense of, that is still living and floating in the ether and will do so for yet more centuries to come. That is extraordinary. And I did that. I do it, to my continual astonishment, all the time. 

Read the whole essay...


See also:

Vows

Matt & Daron, February 7, 2003

Daron's Vows

Matt —

Being born into this world is a mystery. There is no way for us to take credit for even one of the infinite number of steps that lead to the initial spark of our lives. Our lives are our gifts to us and I want to be wide awake for mine. I want to live it fully and honestly.

I did not go searching for you. You were a complete surprise. If I had known that such a phenomenon as Matt White existed, I would have set out to find you. You were like a pond hidden in the mountains of New Mexico that I accidentally happened upon — your surface completely still, your water crystal clear, the sun shining in the clear blue sky above you. Breathtaking. I continue to be amazed by the endless discoveries I've made in you.

How lucky are those who have been given a glimpse of the brightly colored fish living inside you. But I am the luckiest of all, having learned that contained in your depths is a treasure chest overflowing with riches and magic beyond my wildest dreams. I will never tire of swimming in you as long as I live. 

Considering what stood between where we were when we first met in February 1993 and where we are these ten years later, I am profoundly humbled by the impossibility of our union which I know is sacred and which is now being recognized as civil.

It is in awe of these miracles of life and love which are so easily taken for granted, that I enter into this vow of commitment to you by the choices I make every day. By practicing paying attention to the holiness hidden in each moment — in private and in public, in pleasure and suffering, alone and together — may our love continue its slow, unrepeatable blooming.

Matt's Vows

Daron —

I join you as my partner for life.

I vow to love you, honor you, respect you, and cherish our union. 

I seek to live each day with you in search of wisdom, truth, compassion, and peace. 

I promise to love you, comfort you, and encourage you through all of life's joys and sorrows.

Our union is made in love and will sustain us in our lives together. 

Closing Blessing

May we be free from internal and external harm.
May we have calm, clear minds.
May we be physically healthy, strong, and vital. 
May we share our experiences of love, joy, wonder, peace, and wisdom, in this life together, just as it is. 
And may the love we have for each other quietly ripple out of our home and into the world.

For What Binds Us
by Jane Hirshfield

There are names for what binds us:
strong forces, weak forces.
Look around, you can see them:
the skin that forms in a half-empty cup,
nails rusting into the places they join,
joints dovetailed on their own weight.
The way things stay so solidly
wherever they've been set down—
and gravity, scientists say, is weak. 

And see how the flesh grows back
across a wound, with a great vehemence,
more strong
than the simple, untested surface before.
There's a name for it on horses,
when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh, 

as all flesh,
is proud of its wounds, wears them
as honors given out after battle,
small triumphs pinned to the chest— 

And when two people have loved each other
see how it is like a
scar between their bodies,
stronger, darker, and proud;
how the black cord makes of them a single fabric
that nothing can tear or mend.

The Head is an Overstated Organ

Robert Patterson, who has Alzheimer's disease, speaks with his wife, Karen, from StoryCorps:

Robert and Karen Patterson Robert: I feel like I’m the same person, but I know I’m kind of a big load to deal with.

Karen: You know how we talk sometimes about who we really are. What is our essence? Memories are not who you are.

Robert: Well, I think one thing I experience with Alzheimer's is I live in the moment ‘cause I can’t remember what happened yesterday—I can’t remember what happened ten minutes ago, but I’m much more present, I think.

Karen: Do you think about the future?

Robert: I know that there’s probably a bad time that comes in the future. This disease gets more wicked, but I don’t obsess on it. I do a nice job of ignoring it.

Karen: With this disease, you moved from somebody that lived in their head a lot to somebody who lived in their heart.

Robert: The head is an overstated organ; the heart is where all the action is. I remember things that occur in my heart much better than things in my head: having fun with the kids, laughing, our new grandchild.”

Karen: Speaking of this new grandchild, is there something you’d like him to know?

Robert: I would like him to know that I fell in love with him the first time I saw him in the hospital. And every time I see that sweet little face, it just makes me feel good. I’m looking forward to hanging with him and teaching him things that I think are really important. That’s my job for the rest of my life.

Karen: I don’t know if you even remember this, but once we were listening to a book on tape. It talked about the greatest thing you could do if you loved somebody, that you would be the one that was left. And that you would be the one that could care for your lover.

You are not alone. And I’m honored that I’m the one that can care for you. I always will.

Robert: You always have. Thank you.

The Power of Half

From “What Could You Live Without?” by Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times (January 23, 2009):

The Power of HalfMr. Salwen and his wife, Joan, had always assumed that their kids would be better off in a bigger house. But after they downsized, there was much less space to retreat to, so the family members spent more time around each other. A smaller house unexpectedly turned out to be a more family-friendly house.

“We essentially traded stuff for togetherness and connectedness,” Mr. Salwen told me, adding, “I can’t figure out why everybody wouldn’t want that deal.”

It’s a Search

Nadine Gordimer photo by Dan Porges "People make the mistake of regarding commitment as something solely political. A writer is committed to trying to make sense of life. It's a search. So there is that commitment first of all: the commitment to the honesty and determination to go as deeply into things as possible, and to dredge up what little bit of truth you with your talent can then express."

~ Nadine Gordimer

[Thanks Garrison Keillor!]

 

The Complete Surprise of Matt White

Matt White was born on this day in Rockford, Illinois (1967). He has performed in the Nutcracker, Matt White diving for Columbia.earned gold medals diving for Columbia, searched for rare flowers in the desert, traveled the world, ridden in a parade limo with Ralph Malph of Happy Days fame, made lunch for Ralph Nader, nearly burned down his apartment, laughed with glee while watching countless people fall down on America’s Funniest Videos, learned to make Osso Bucco after I read about it in a poem, and become a national expert on quantifying the problem of homelessness and efforts to decrease it.

Here are the vows I read to him during our civil union ceremony in Stowe, Vermont on February 7, 2003. We held our private ceremony in the home of Justice of the Peace Elizabeth Campbell who was baking cookies when we arrived.

Matt,

Being born into this world is a mystery. Elizabeth CampbellThere is no way for us to take credit for even one of the infinite number of steps that lead to the initial spark of our lives. Our lives are gifts to us and I want to be wide awake for mine. I want to live it fully and honestly.

I did not go searching for you. You were a complete surprise. If I had known that such a phenomenon as Matt White existed, I would have set out to find you. You were like a pond hidden in the mountains of New Mexico that I accidently happened upon—your surface completely still, your water crystal clear, the sun shining in the clear blue sky above you. Breathtaking. I continue to be amazed by the endless discoveries I’ve made in you.

How lucky are those who have been given a glimpse of the brightly colored fish living inside you. But I am the luckiest of all, having learned that contained in your depths is a treasure chest overflowing with riches and magic beyond my wildest dreams. I will never tire of swimming in you as long as I live.

Matt White Considering what stood between where we were when we first met and where we are these ten years later, I am profoundly humbled by the impossibility of our union which I know as sacred and which is now being recognized as civil.

It is in awe of these miracles of life and love which are so easily taken for granted that I enter into this vow of commitment to you by the choices I make every day. By practicing paying attention to the holiness hidden inside each moment—in private and in public, in pleasure and in suffering, alone and together—may our love continue its slow, unrepeatable blooming.

* * * * *

For What Binds Us
by Jane Hirschfield

There are names for what binds us: strong forces, weak forces.

Look around, you can see them: the skin that forms in a half-
empty cup, nails rusting into the places they join, joints
dovetailed on their own weight, the way things stay so solidly
wherever they’ve been set down—and gravity, scientists say, is
weak.

And see how the flesh grows back across a wound, with a great
vehemence, more strong than the simple, untested surface
before.

There’s a name for it on horses, when it comes back darker and
raised: proud flesh, as all flesh is proud of its wounds, wears
them as honors given out after battle, small triumphs pinned to
the chest.

And when two people have loved each other see how it is like a
scar between their bodies, stronger, darker, proud; how the
black cord makes of them a single fabric that nothing can tear or
mend.

This Is What Practicing Is All About

"After you lose some great passion in your life, or a dream that you've had collapses, it often takes a really long time before you can come to terms with what that loss meant to you... This is what practicing is all about. You're striving for some unattainable goal. And consequently every day you are going to end up not achieving what you dream of and, yet, the next day somehow you start again. And try again. And the fact that you don't achieve what you dream of each time you sit down is what leads you forward and makes you continue.

And I think it's true for anything. It doesn't matter if it's music or dance or acting or an art form or baking a cake or parenting even. I think this idea of practice means that you come back to it--almost no matter what happens."

Glenn Kurtz, classical guitar player and author of Practicing: A Musician's Return to Music

Check out his playlist on Paper Cuts.

[Quote found on Jonathan Carroll's blog]

Practice and Commitment

“Practice is the best of all instructors.” -Publilius Syrus

"Submit to a daily practice. Your loyalty to that is a ring on the door. Keep knocking, and the joy inside will eventually open a window and look out to see who's there." -Rumi

"This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way." - W.H. Murray