Rhythm is, indeed, everything. I failed music theory back when I was eight or nine and played the violin indifferently. I never could figure out what they were talking about when they talked about 5/6 time (?), or 4/4 time. The house and the car were filled with music, mostly baroque, mixed with the solemn, annoying voices of NPR reporters. I attended the opera. Why couldn't I get it? I sit listening to the soaring arc of George Lewis's clarinet in “Over the Waves” and I think, surely it's the fact that I was mysteriously unprepared to make an intuitive leap. To feel. Or, perhaps, to feel with intellect. Rhythm is a sort of sign or metaphor. If I had to guess I'd say our lives are lived these days at something like a 2/4 beat, overwhelmed sometimes in the faster, higher rhythms of a new place, some gaping—opportunity, that is, some problem waiting to be transformed into the most astounding future we could never have imagined. Isn't that what's waiting?
Recently, Tallulah drank bleach. Jesus! It was diluted so thoroughly it didn't even have a smell. We have no idea how it got onto a measuring cup on the counter. She threw up all over the floor and then said she felt better. I wasn't at all satisfied. But Adam had gone to Fajardo and taken the dinghy; a storm was passing over, interfering with the internet connection; oh yeah, and Adam had the cellphone. We triangulated by shouting into our respective instruments, “Can you hear me?” and bleating the relevant words like morse code. It was kind of like being in a war a hundred years ago. It turned out Adam was calling Lawrence, who lives on a boat nearby, while I was hailing the anchorage on the radio. Then two men in dinghies were heading straight for our boat, medevac style. We all visited the doctor together. He looked down her throat and said she was fine. Then my platoon and I walked over to the health food store for a quick recon of life-giving fluids. When I thanked them, they said, “Happy to help. We don't have much money, but we have lots of time.” A little day-in-the-life for ya.
I recently read a book called Radical Homemakers. It's all about people who, the author says, “did the math.” They did the math and they decided to opt out of the traditional paradigm of working and spending. They turned their family units into “units of production” rather than “units of consumption.” Make, forage, barter, do with less. Drop out. Relearn. Reintegrate, but with a difference. I'm wondering if the commune movement of the late sixties and seventies ran into such trouble because there was no internet. Apparently Adam and I are not alone. Rather than being consumed with anxiety over the crisis of resources, we can look upon it as a reason to live better. What's so great about massive consumption, anyway? Does it make people happy? We've got rhythm. Now, we just have to swing it.
(Thank you, Wendy, for your inspiring gift.)