As the summer moves into the fall I am trying to get in as much kayaking as I can before I have to wrap up my boat for another winter. Last weekend I managed to get out onto the river twice; it was hot and sunny and both times my spirits soared as I paddled along. Beautiful white swans often escorted me and flocks of Canada Geese flew by, perhaps practicing for their soon-to-take-place journey south. Kayaking for me is a form of meditation; I leave the outside world behind as I become one with the river (really, truly, that’s what it feels like) and often I listen to music to add another element to my joy. It doesn’t happen all of the time, but often – as I paddle along – I gain a sense of clarity and awareness that I haven’t had before. This happened over the weekend. Let me share it with you.
Choosing what music to listen to is always one of the challenges as I settle into my kayak. Sometimes it’s just music without lyrics (this tends towards Bossa Tango rhythms); sometimes it’s music in another language (‘Les Choristes’ is really, really beautiful as is David Broza‘s ) which lets me revel in the sound without thinking much about the words; sometimes it’s old favorites (words that inspire me … Phil Ochs – ‘Chords of Fame’, Carol King – ‘Tapestry’) and sometimes it’s something lighthearted that has me singing along (aloud, which might frighten some of the folks in passing kayaks and canoes). This weekend I was listening to the sound track from Mama Mia (very good for getting a strong paddling rhythm going) and I kept replaying the song Slipping Through My Fingers. In case you don’t know it, here it is.
I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with my children and grand-children over the summer and so this song really got me thinking. These words in particular really struck a chord with me:
Sleep in our eyes, her and me at the breakfast table
Barely awake, I let precious time go by
Then when she’s gone theres that odd melancholy feeling
And a sense of guilt I cant deny
What happened to the wonderful adventures
The places I had planned for us to go
Well, some of that we did but most we didn’t
And why I just dont know
I had many wonderful adventures with my children when they were growing up. But there were other adventures that I’d planned … even promised … that never happened. And so I got to thinking about that and what I could still do about it. Here’s where I got.
One of the things that I had planned to do was take my children to Israel. I hadn’t planned that as a vacation really; I’d planned to move there and have them grown up there. I almost did it. In the early 80s I was knocked down by a student and spent about a month in bed unable to walk. That gave me lots of time to think about what I was doing living in Toronto and, as a result, as soon as I could walk I headed off to Israel for a few weeks and (a) got a job, (b) rented an apartment, (c) visited schools for my children, (d) ordered a car … and did most of this with my sweet sweet sister Molly who was studying in a women’s yeshiva in Israel that year. I got home, sold my house in Toronto, sold my car, requested a leave of absence from my teaching position … and fell in love. Oh crap! Can you believe it? There I was, a feminist, changing all of my plans and abandoning my dreams … for a man. These words hang on a plaque on my kitchen wall. What was I thinking?
Yup, I let that dream slip through my fingers. But … it’s never too late to try to make amends is it? In fact, a Jewish custom at this time of year as we approach Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) is to think through the things that you do need to correct from the past and “make it right”. My children are all adults now so moving them to Israel is pretty much beyond my sphere of influence. That said, I don’t need to totally abandon this do I? So here it is. I’m going to invite all of my children – together or separately – to journey to Israel with me. I’m going to offer each of them an opportunity to share my love for the land and the people, for the past and the present.
To all of you who are celebrating Rosh Hashanah (beginning this Friday evening) may I wish you a year filled with joy and justice, peace and prosperity, hope and happiness. May sweet things come your way. Shanah Tovah!
Maybe I let this slip through my fingers but it’s never too late is it? Time’s still precious; I think I’d best start using some of it for wonderful adventures with my children. I’ll let you know what happens.
Anything that’s slipped through your fingers that you’d like to revisit?