As the Sumac Turns…

As the sumac turns …

Growing up, my mom was an elementary teacher.  In our house, the end of August and early September signaled back to school, back to work, and back to stress.  We had a huge sumac bush at the front of the house, and as soon as the leaves started to turn a little bit red, mom started stewing.  The energy of this was more, “Oh no, now what’s coming?” and not really, “Oh wow, how exciting!”  Even now that she has long since retired, early autumn still provokes transition panic as she frantically plots and schemes changes she might make before the snow flies.  We lovingly respond to her epic, self-induced, transition-time panic saying, “It’s okay mom, this is just another episode of … As the Sumac Turns” (cue dramatic soap opera theme music).    I have inherited a certain amount of transition panic, and I’ve managed to invent some more of my own over the years.  I accept this, and I know that I need a lot of support in order to embrace change.  While my head knows that change is good and leads to new and exciting things, my heart needs some love and compassion to let go of the fears that come up for me.  In addition to EFT tapping, one strategy I use to create a positive reframe around transitions, is to remind myself that transitions are essential, and very often breathtakingly beautiful, in music.

Here are three types of musical transitions (and there are many others) that remind me to enjoy the journey and eagerly anticipate the destination:

Dynamic transitions – the changes from loud to soft (crescendo and diminuendo); the suddenly loud in Handel’s Surprise Symphony, the shape of a phrase, the hush and fade of a lullaby, the build to full-out symphonic joy in Beethoven’s 5th

Tempo – the changes in speed; the excitement of an accelerando, the anguish of a ritardando, the sensuality of a rallentando, the quick-witted satisfaction of a prestissimo

Key changes – the change in home pitch; anticipating the modulation, the mystery of the relative minor, the intensity of hearing the chorus move up in pitch for one more repetition, the drama and suspense of anything chromatic.

In life, and in music, there is always the where we came from and the where we’re going.  Music would not be music without transitions.  So maybe we can embrace transitions in life with the same appreciation, anticipation and enjoyment as we do when we listen to or perform music.  Rather than cast myself in another tragic transition episode of As the Sumac Turns, I think I’ll cue up my playlist and allow myself to experience the beautiful momentum of the musical transitions.


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