So how does one experience a literal 48 hour Wednesday, and completely lose a Tuesday from their life? It’s easy; just head “down-under” and come back really fast!!
You see, I spent a magnificent, long weekend in Montgomery, Alabama (read previous post) working with some wonderfully talented and dedicated young singers as part of my duties as the Artistic Director of the Vann Vocal Institute. I came away from the weekend rather exhausted, but invigorated by the inspired presentations of the participants. Presiding over a non-stop two day masterclass, while my outstanding musical staff of coaches also worked one-on-one with these excellent students, can be rather daunting and challenging from the standpoint of stamina; but as usual, it’s the excitement and energy of the young that keeps us all going.
Each and every participant came prepared and ready to work, much as I predicted in my previous posting. They were intelligent, well dressed, polite, and eager. With radio appearances, additional lectures, plenty of lunches, dinners, and parties–and of course, my appearance at First Baptist Church (twice) on Sunday morning(!), you can surely agree that I deserved that private jet ride back to NYC on Sunday afternoon. But even that was hardly enough to clear my head…..
As many of you know, I had acquired a penchant for world travel well over a decade ago. Having crisscrossed this globe more times than I can count, and having visited every continent on earth (several times now); I have discovered that a long airplane ride is just the right medicine for clearing your mind. For this, as well as other personal and professional reasons, I hopped on a United Airlines flight from New York’s LaGuardia Airport on Monday morning and headed for Sydney, Australia. The lie-flat business class seats in the newly configured Boeing 747’s allows one to sleep fairly well on this lengthy flight from LAX or SFO, and you can therefore arrive ‘ready to go’, respectively speaking. I studied music, waxed thoughtfully on the previous weekend, pondered my future in the educational, performance, and personal arenas, all while sipping on very civilized Gin (or Vodka) and Tonics.
After landing in Sydney, I took care of my professional business in the city proper, returned to the airport and shuffled through the many delightful shopping mall style stores, and returned to the Air New Zealand business class lounge (which United Airlines shares as a Star Alliance Partner) to enjoy what Air New Zealand does the very best……FOOD!! When one flies with the aforementioned carrier, they can expect hot meals on real china with real flatware, and fine wine. Their lounges are no different. They change the cuisine every few hours, and I’m talking good stuff: Egg white omelettes, hot popover muffins, grilled breakfast sausages, foot long hot dogs, Italian meats and cheeses, pizza, hot soups, roasted potatoes, grilled panini sandwiches, olive caponata, chicken satay, and oh, so much more. A plethora of wines, champagnes, and liquors (as well as soft drinks) complement each change of cuisine and one can find plenty of other things to do there to keep themselves busy. A full business center, and wireless connections, means that you can take care of business matters, or chat with your loved ones via Skype.
Because one crosses the International Date Line while flying over the Pacific, you leave on Monday, but arrive on Wednesday morning into Sydney; thus bypassing Tuesday altogether. When you arrive, a hot shower in the lovely Air New Zealand lounge’s private shower facility, and a change of clothes, means that you are ready to take on their Wednesday. Remember, it is still summer down-under, so the weather was a lovely 70 something degrees (cooler than usual for that time of year, but nice for those of us who have lived through three blizzards this season!). When it is time to get on that turnaround flight and head back to the States (with only your carry-on luggage, btw!), you live yet another Wednesday, because by the time you arrive into LAX or SFO, it is still Wednesday morning….It’s not quite “Ground Hog Day”, but close. One usually sleeps on those long flights and when you wake up, it’s morning and you’re close to the airport; but in this case it is two different airports–so I guess it’s “Ground Hog Adjacent”; but you get the idea.
This mind cleansing travel gives me plenty of time to reflect on the things and persons that I love, be grateful for all that I have, and the time to mourn (in a way) the things that are no longer. I thought about my many close friends that have passed away, moved away, or just moved on. I thought about one of my coaching staff who couldn’t come to Montgomery because of a recent cancer diagnosis. I thought about the lovely young lady whose company I began keeping only recently, and I thought about a long-time companion whose company I am (sadly) no longer able to enjoy. I thought about those terrific young ladies and gentlemen from the Vann Vocal Institute that I lectured about ‘dignity’, and the use of the ‘classical vocal arts’ to achieve such–even for a few moments each day–; and I thought about the limitless possibilities that are still available to all of them. I also thought about the lesser Nation that they are inheriting from this last generation and part of the preceding, and I worry. I never did have children, and yet I still worry for all of them. Yes, I thought a lot, about a lot of things, and not soooo much about myself. That’s when you know that your mind is really getting cleared out…..when you are thinking about so many other things and about so many other people. As a performing artist, we are so very often hung up on ourselves: How did I sing, how do I look, where do I go to perform next. Those are not bad thoughts necessarily, but you would be surprised by how a loooong plane ride–and a 48 hour Wednesday–will allow you to think about so much more as well….