Three Things podcast—Episode 30: a musical note, a dream forecast, a coffee outside


Happy end of the week! Here are three things from my little life that made me happy or grateful (or gratefully bewildered) this week.

The podcast.

The transcript:

1. Trumpeter Sean

My brother-in-law Sean is a jazz musician of some note. He fronted the Edmonton Jazz Ensemble back in the day. He teaches at a college in New Jersey. We got to chatting in email about a new song by Bleachers, which turned into a kind of treatise on how musicians perform together. They can do so at a high level only if they’re as good at listening as they are at making their own noise. Here’s Sean from that email last week.

To play in an ensemble, I have to listen to myself through focusing on your playing. Fortunately it is not difficult to hear myself since I am the closest to my instrument, but since I’m closest to the instrument and the sound that it’s creating, I hear it and it’s yet harder for me to hear the other players, which is why I must focus on them. I have spent my life honing listening skills to the point where I adjust my pitch and time probably hundreds of times in a rehearsal or a performance. Most of the time 90 percent of the time, I’m unaware of those adjustments. The analogy I use is driving a car, and for you and my students who don’t drive yet, the analogy is riding a bike. 

Nicely composed, Sean. Maybe whatever deep thinker from long ago who wanted to banish the musicians from political life got it precisely wrong. 

Note from Sean

Note to self: Try to live life more musically, and not treat music just as a hobby or a gift or something others are good at.

Dream bridge

2. Dream forecast

This is how it happened, I think.

Deep asleep in bed and dreaming Tuesday morning I met Mr. Stewart, my minor hockey coach from the north end. He told me his dog had a not-for-profit tag. Then I was in a car. Then the car plummeted off the High Level Bridge. I hit the ground and woke up.

Half an hour later or so I was up and outside on my bike to get some fresh air on a river valley trail. I turned onto  a small footbridge. I misread it. It was wet. As I dropped the full half second off the bridge into the branches and muck of a pit, I replayed the High Level Bridge dream. And just like in the dream, I hit the ground. It was the strangest overlap of dream and reality ever in my life.

Real bridge

In the dream, the car disintegrated and I walked away without a scratch and headed for the Kinsmen Sports Centre with my Adidas gym bag. After the real-life fall on my bike, I wobbled home, physically and ontologically. Had I really gotten a warning from the dream kingdom about a fall to come? Where was I? Who was I? It was a slow, sore, surreal pedal back home. This broken cardboard box emoji on the shared use trail on the Quesnell Bridge captured my state of mind.

What just happened to me?!

I got home without further misadventure. The back of my knee was scraped up nice. Auntie Shelagh cleaned it, which brought me back to real life where the body is not just a ghostly shape on a dream screen, but a thing that hurts. That pain. I get that pain. The other matter of the dreamed fall and then the real fall, that’s still a bridge too far for me.

What's more real than a dream, sometimes? Don't answer.

3. Coffee—outside of myself

For almost seven years now, a group of bicycle riders in Edmonton have met almost every Friday morning, in winter, in summer to do what can’t be done on social media, which is to get off our bikes, drink coffee together and be in person, as the old people say. On some Fridays, the handlebarista is there with his retrofitted cargo bike turned coffee making setup that you have to see to believe. One of the people there last Friday was Greg, visiting from Calgary. What he saw and heard at Coffee Outside is worth drinking in.

“If you ask anybody in any helping profession, they’ll tell you that social isolation is our number one malady as a society," he said. "And what I see at Coffee Outside is social connection. So, Coffee Outside, in its own way, is combatting social isolation."

Nicely composed, Pastor. And the buzz of conversation in the background while you spoke was like an orchestra tuning up. The kind of real life sound you don’t yet get on Zoom. 

Here's Greg in his own voice:

Have a real, good weekend, everyone—with some ensemble-ness in it.


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