Mrs. Reynold would only say one word. I was in fourth grade, in choir, in Oklahoma City where she did this thing–made this sound–to get us ready to sing. It wasn’t really even a word. It was a sound. It happened like this–we would all be on the risers, talking and whispering and laughing and then she would walk in, poofy coiffed hair, lacquered with Brek or Prell. She was so nice, Mrs. Reynolds–an older woman who loved us, we knew. But we also knew not to make her mad. More than us, she loved music. And at least we had that in common. We could respect that; it was understood. We liked her too much to make her mad. Mrs. Reynolds held our attention. She gave us a pitch. She gave us our song.
When she walked in the room, she had all one-hundred of her selected children, from choirs from elementary schools from around the city, trained. All she had to do was mutter the sound/word, which I can’t even remember and I;m not sure I ever even understood in the first place. We did as we were taught. All she had to do was say it and we moved to the edge of where we were sitting, tailbone touching the metal part of the riser (not the part made of felt), backs straight as an arrow, chest thrust forward, chin out, diaphragm relaxed, still and ready. We held our breath in anticipation of our first cue.
Sometimes she did it on purpose. She’d give us our notes–altos and sopranos and then, Mrs. Reynolds, eyebrows raised with her fingertips as if the two were attached on a string like a puppet, would stop, in mid air. She would pause so that we might entertain her with our excellent resilience and attention—
Fast forward twenty years to 2012.
Let’s say the world doesn’t end on December 21st as predicted.
Let’s just pretend that it does. Let’s pretend that everything we know is over and gone and unrecoverable. Let’s pretend that whatever is wrong in our lives no longer matters and let’s pretend that whatever is right in our lives never has mattered because right now–on December 21st–it’s all going to be over.
New Zealand is the first country to see the light of day each fresh morning. We are twenty-one hours ahead of California so if the world ends when the clock strikes midnight on December 21st, you’ll know it first from me. If there’s no time to blog about it or send out a mass email, you’ll just know because you won’t have heard a peep. When you don’t hear that anticipated peep, you’ll know the truth: the world will have ceased and the wave of silence that is to be your fate will be coming.
Serves me right to go first. I’m making a mockery of the end of times. The thing is, I find it difficult to believe. Difficult because right now, as I type, birds are singing their songs, chirping loudly and the dang neighbor kids keep whacking their ball into our yard–in short, life is happening and no one really seems too concerned about it.
The End of the World.
This? This is an event we should all look forward to. Forget fear mongering. It means we can forgo Christmas shopping this year, eat and drink whatever we want. We can fulfill our own last wishes–every single one of them.
“Hey! Maybe we really should pretend it’s the end of the world this year,” I said to Nick just now.
“Why?” he asked.
“Because. What if it really were?”
“How will we know then?”
“I don’t know. But we’ll be the first to find out.”
He looked at me with wide blue, blinking eyes.
I said in a dreamy wishful won-the-lotto voice, “Maybe we should… You know, spend it on a remote island somewhere–”
“We are on a remote island and it’s called New Zealand.”
I cracked up.
Now this is an important point. A very important point he has made because it brings me EXACTLY to my point. My point is also his question: How will we know when it is the end of the world? And my guestimated answer is this: We won’t. At least, I won’t. Here I am, on a remote island, wishing I had a gazillion bucks so I could book a trip to a remote island.
How absolutely ridiculous.
And yet, I kinda do this a lot. I walk around wishing something and then when I stop to think about it in ways that don’t necessarily equate to the original expectation, I realize; that wish? It’s already a reality.
Maybe I need to start wishing for how to recognize a wish come true when I have one.
But really. I mean, what if we looked at the end of the world as such: The End.
Whatever becomes of us–whether we are conscious or not, alive or dead, floating spirits in purgatory or just in the same old circumstances as usual, STILL–I say we start over.
Begin again. Recommence, as a group.
Let’s erase all the expectations, all the unmet expectations of Christmas past and future–let’s just start from scratch. All of us. Throw out the old rules, throw out rules in general. Make something squeaky clean and new. If nothing else but to muck them up before New Year’s Eve so we can start again, again.
Let’s begin again, shall we?
That’s what we would do if one person missed Mrs. Reynold’s intro. She’d stop directing nearly just as soon as she’d begun. She’d wave off the accompaniment, and we’d all feel awash in failure. We’d slouch. But we would be given no time to wallow. Regaining her composure she’d say, Sitcomnoose! or whatever it was she said which meant for us to do exactly all the things she wanted us to do without her having to say them.
We would. The pianest would recommence from the top and all would be right again. Rarely would we make it to the end of the song without having to start over because someone was off key or missed their note or plain wasn’t paying attention. But that didn’t matter. What mattered was we were able to start over. Again and again and again–as many times as it took.
Christmas is, perhaps a time of new beginnings. Okay, you’re right: it’s not. That’s reserved for New Year’s. But what if we did reset our ways. What if we dropped the expectations of spectacular Christmases past or rotten times with the family at Christmas and just decided to sit on the edge of our seat and wait for what happens next? What if we listened, observed and waited? Excited to see what happened next? Excited in the way that only a kid can be–without fear or worry…just excited. Even if it is for nothing other than The End.
Isn’t that what each sunset brings? An end? An end is a beginning that turns into night which thus initiates day. Let us learn to expect just that and nothing more: endings and beginnings.
The End. A Beginning. No time to wallow.
Time to start, and start again if necessary, even if it’s not all going to turn out perfectly, which isn’t important anyway. The important thing is that you are sitting on the edge of your chair, chin out, having taken a big heavy breath, ready to belt out the song you’ve been given.
Thanks for allowing me to be a part of this year’s Holiday Blog Tour! Be sure to read the next blog by Caridad Pineiro and a big thanks to Icess Fernandez Rojas for asking me to participate…again.