Grandma Wants A Watch Tattoo

I should get a watch tattoo, close to the truth
where the hands only point to Now.
The concepts are cool but
they’re short of the truth and
the truth about Then is Now.
I only can be, then Now I will be
all I will be then Now.

The grandchildren are the hope for the future, to put a spin on a popular cultural idea. It’s a catchy cliché, but also the underlying reason that so many seniors are musically ignored by our culture.

This truth is most dramatically highlighted during the holidays, when “the grandchildren” come around to senior homes and nursing homes to bring a snowflake of cheer to “the grandparents”; one that will quickly melt in the new year leaving the grandparents shivering alone in musical silence. And while I’m grateful that the grandchildren and their adult music mentors make a point of dropping by with a few carols, it also breaks my heart.

I understand that our culture desperately hopes beyond hope that the future will be better than the present, but I’m mystified by that because two things seem so obvious.

1) Dissatisfaction with the present rolls endlessly into the future. No matter what Americans bring into their present lives they seem perpetually dissatisfied.

2) The future does not exist. Those grandchildren are never going to do anything in the future. They can only affect our future by acting now, in the perpetually unfolding present moment.

But we don’t like the present moment, which is in a very real sense the gift from those who came before. This present moment that we simply must get away from is an unrecognized outgrowth of what has “been done to us” by those who came before. And those people are “the grandparents”. They did this to us. Not our children’s grandparents of course, but someone’s.

And that is why, when it comes to music and the arts, the grandparents don’t matter much. Except, of course, at Christmas time when God and Santa Claus are watching ever so closely.

It is sad, to me, because what happens is that we arm the grandchildren with implements of the arts, but rarely share the results with the grandparents. We find ways to get musical instruments and instruction to the grandchildren, but we leave the grandparents in musical silence. We never stop by to say, or play, “Thank you!”

We forget that were it not for the grandparents we would not have factories that build musical instruments, nor schools with music classrooms, nor churches for choirs. We would not have musical venues nor the streets that connect all of these things, nor the transportation that gets us around.

And perhaps most importantly, were it not for the grandparents, we would not have the freedom to create these musical programs that arm the grandchildren with implements of the arts.

And that is why the grandparents are worth it; why the grandparents should not be left in musical silence day after week after year after decade.

May the spirit that arises from desperate hope for the future find a way to manifest in every present moment of your new year.

Happy Holidays from Alice and Greg


Leave a Reply