Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Taking It For Granite –or– There’s a Hand, My Trusty Fiere

Today, online, I’ve noticed a large number of my friends posting sentiments along the lines of, “hey, 2013, don’t let the door hit you on your way out.”

In fact, I may have quoted one friend exactly.

Recognizing that it’s right-next-to-impossible to isolate one year and discover that what’s happened to someone is either all good or all bad … the year 2013 has been beddy beddy good to me.

Not trying to one-up you, or to gloat. Rather, I think I’m trying to offer a hat tip. Enough of my years have deserved the “don’t let the door…” thought, that when one doesn’t, I want to take note.

A few years ago, I started keeping notes about what I had accomplished and when. The habit started out as a desperate bid to keep a school vacation week from slipping away. I was writing down anything from “lunch with Fred” to “nap” to “supermarket run” – so that when I got to Friday, I wouldn’t look back and wonder, “where did that week go?” If I fritter away a day or a week, I’m going to do it on purpose.

I promise, I’m not really that obsessive all the time. If I were, my office would be a lot cleaner, I think.

Anyway, I went back to the my 2013 records today and discovered that while I did have to take the occasional sick day, and not every plan came together, and occasionally I had to attend meetings which were something less than giddy fun, and occasionally all was not peaches ‘n’ cream and hearts ‘n’ flowers … yeah, 2013 and I got along.


I got to find out what a new job in a new town was like, and racked up a startling number of firsts. First high school concert in the new town … first middle school concert … first community outreach gig … first faculty meeting … first sick day …

I got to participate in a number of really fine musical performances, and in many of those I got to be less of a chief and more of an Indian, if you’ll pardon the expression. Bass player just groovin’ in the back? Piano accompanist playing for a vocalist who was quite rightly attracting all the attention? Saxophonist amidst the very large concert band? Choir member in the back row? That was me, just hangin’ out and watching the conductor for a change.

This was my fifteenth summer as a member of a pair of groups – assisting with the music for my favorite children’s theater group, and hangin’ with the incredible teaching staff of a certain drum major clinic – and re-discovering how Cool each of these Groups are.

Via my church gig, I had the opportunity to partake of quite a number of memorable musical experiences. Summer music involved solos and trios and choirs (oh my) … the “high holy” weeks were, shall we say, a bit more organized and thus a bit more calm (relatively speaking) than prior versions … and let’s just say that I’ve gone on and on about about the process of going “From Zero to Large Musical Work in Five-Point-Five Months”. A lot of times I have the best seat in the house, in front of that choir.

I have also already waxed eloquent about the word “thunderstruck” in relation to a pair of Hall of Fame -quality experiences this fall. And I happen not to be thinking about the Red Sox winning the World Series, either. Humbly I suggest you move on to the next paragraph.

This spring, I got to watch two colleagues flex their recent-doctorate-in-conducting muscles, leading two fine ensembles in performances that, I would judge, should have sent messages to the rest of the college indoor band world: objects in mirror are closer than they appear.

I traded barbs and smiles and current-event updates and concerns with friends and colleagues, via social media engines, as I became something of a devotee of the “liveblogging” experience. The presidential inauguration … the Boston Marathon bombings and the subsequent lockdown of the city of Boston … the final night of drum corps competition … the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade … random hockey games? Sometimes the commentary was about events we all were witnessing. Sometimes the commentary was journalism: Cadets in third place … our favorite college band is on CBS television right now! … the bombing suspect is hiding in a boat in somebody’s backyard. It’s a brave new world, with the virtual and the real connecting and merging and good luck figuring out which is which sometimes.

I had other opportunities to appreciate the fine people that I get to call friends. Friends old and new … sitting at coffee shops, or All-State sessions … in a booth, or at the bar … at pubs, or in homes, or at concert venues, or on the main drag at amusement parks … on the way across town to a blockbuster movie, or on the way up the eastern seaboard … chatting and philosophizing, or harmonizing and jammin’ … former students, or nearly-lifelong ‘mates … at high noon, or into the wee hours of the night. If the secret to success is to surround yourself with good people, then I got it made.

I got to attend a pair of weddings that involved professional colleagues, and in each case, it was spectacularly obvious that, in the words of the ancient mystic at the end of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” … They Chose Wisely. And they seemed so happy that I almost couldn’t believe it.

I attended visiting hours or wakes or memorial services for relatives of four friends or colleagues. I’m not so Pollyanna that I would focus on those times exclusively as chances to connect and re-connect with good friends, although those contacts did happen. But looking back at the notes I made about those events does serve as a reminder, as if I needed one, that I had it pretty good this year – abnormally so, in fact.


Meantime, as always seems to be the case, out in the big wide world there were people who didn’t have it so good, this year.  Our world features miseries on top of indignities, problems causing or being caused by calamities. Meteors hit Russian cities … bombs go off at marathon finish lines and at shopping malls … gunshots ring out inside schools full of our children … military coups and poison gas attacks rend the Middle Eastern part of the world … flash floods and typhoons trap, injure and kill thousands … politicians say and do things that seem almost calculated to take other people’s misfortunes and compound them …

So, note to self: must not take for granted whatever good fortune settles upon me. I ain’t got much to gripe about, compared to many in the world. If I were a superstitious fella, I might be avoiding sidewalk cracks, crossing fingers, and tossing handfuls of salt with reckless abandon at this point. Yeah, I got stress – who doesn’t? – but as long as I’ve spent so much blog time and space imploring other people to go get a sense of perspective or proportion … I need to take my own advice on this one.

Lift up … because you can.

Here’s a wish that your year 2014 might rise to and past the level of my 2013. Whatever that may mean.


December 31, 2013 - Posted by | current events, friends, social media | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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