Friday, November 10, 2006


When my sister and I were children, our parents presented us with a record which taught us all the instruments of the orchestra. It even came with a miniature baton, just like the conductors used. Alas, my instrument knowledge went the way of my early geographic knowledge, and even after years spent at the Auditorium in Memphis listening to the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, I still cannot identify many of the instruments. The only instruments I play, of course, are the Celtic harp, piano, and organ. I flunked guitar lessons. Does the kazoo count?

At any rate, on my long commutes to work these days I am listening to my favorite Christmas CDs. One of my favorites is recorded by a brass band. I love listening to brass. The music reminds me of football games and Christmas carols. As I enjoyed my CD this morning, I realized that my brain was tuning in on the tubas. That is rather strange. I'm a soprano, and one would think I would be more attuned to the trumpet, for instance. I have never played a tuba and have never known anyone who did. The rest of my commute was spent in contemplation. Why was the tuba resonating with me?

The tuba is the foundation of every song on that CD. It keeps the beat, keeps all the other instruments in place. It's firm, solid, dependable. It may not be a romantic instrument, but it is certainly the rock of the orchestra. Its notes aren't fancy. It's not a show-off type of horn. But it's there when you need it. No surprises. Just a firm, steady beat. I can anticipate each note even before it is played, because it's usually a predictable sequence.

I concluded that I am probably being drawn to the tuba these days because my life otherwise is so up in the air. I've heard people complain about being in a rut - how uninspired, how depressing. I long for a rut! I long for the steady beat of the tuba, counting in a dependable rhythm, undergirding all my activities. As comfortable as our temporary quarters are in Rachel's basement (thanks, Chris, for finishing up our bathroom!), I still yearn for drawers instead of Rubbermaid containers, a desk instead of an underbed box, and a place to call home. I long for rut and routine!

Routine boring? I've never understood that. How could I possibly be bored? I have so many interests that I will never have enough time to fulfill them. Too many books, too much fabric, too many patterns, too many places to visit, too many sites to see on the Internet, too much music, too much learning!

No, all I want is to be settled and organized. I want to know where my clothes are. I want to play my harp again. I want to finish my quilts. I want to have all my stuff on shelves that are low enough for me to reach. I want that foundation, that rhythm of life that supports everything around me. Nothing fancy, no bells and whistles. Just a nice, firm beat that I can count on.

Mozart's critics said he had "too many notes." It can also be that way in life. There's something to be said for monotony.

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