Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Halcyon Days?

This word has a sense of mystery to me. I've heard it used and not really known what it meant. On a service I subscribe to: www. Dictionary.com Word of the Day, it is today's word. Halcyon, pronounced: \HAL-see-uhn\, noun. It derives from Latin (h)alcyon, from Greek halkuon, "a mythical bird, kingfisher." There is a real kingfisher bird that dives and fishes in fresh water, I think. The mythical one was fabled to nest at sea about the time of the winter solstice and calm the waves during incubation.

Now we use the word as an adjective meaning "calm; quiet; peaceful; undisturbed; happy; as, "deep halcyon repose." It is also marked by peace and prosperity; as, "halcyon years".

Now I know the reason for my facination with this word. I'm in those days right now. I've been striving for them my whole life and career. It comes over me most everyday. Somedays, when I'm having to deal with buyer's escrow problems or company policy or employee challenges, it is a distant echo, but it is still there. Yes, there are still concerns for health and family. There always will be. However, I just feel more calm and things just don't disturb me as much as they used to. I can't say that it is a by-product of my meditation. I'm not doing it that regularly. I do it when I feel the need. It is very calming.

It is a common lament that children today grow up too fast, that society is conspiring to deprive them of the "halcyon childhood" they deserve. I can agree with that. It is never more evident than at the local Middle School, Mountain View. I went there yesterday to help with the "tech" of their up coming production of "Fiddler on the Roof". These are kids who are in grades 6, 7, 8. and puberty is just starting to motivate, especially in the girls.

I arrived about 5 minutes early and parked in the back as I did before. The buses were loading and it was after school chaos. Tall and dressed in black, I suppose I was somewhat imposing as I asked to be let in the latched and adult attended gate. It was swarming with kids pushing and shoving and "horse-playing". I was then let in at the desk-blocked door of the drama room. Kids were somewhat lined up there too. I guessed it was the "cast" of Fiddler. The tallest, biggest girl was keeping them out. She let me in as I asked for the drama teacher/director of the production. She was "taking a break" I was told, so I waited. In walks a teacher who introduces herself as being "responsible for Tech". She teaches computers in the next room so it seemed appropriate.
We both didn't really know what we were going to be asked to do, technically. She said she had to go and pick up her kids at other schools and bring them back to wait. The "director" came in and gave the signal to allow the "cast" to "storm in"...which they did. It took quite a while for them to settle down. She let them socialize for awhile and finish their snacks. She told us what we were expected to do in the next hour and a half. She had made a schedule for "tech" and a list of the cast to be "measured for costumes". That was our "tech" assignment. We had tape measures and had to get the head size, waist size, dress length to the floor, arm length from the nape of the neck and the boy's inseam to the floor for the period costumes. She introduced us to two, seemingly older, student girls who were going to "do" it with our help. They had done it before in previous productions and "knew what she wanted". Fine. She then got the cast quiet and "motivated" and "planned" the time with them. She had a confident way with them and explained how important the "blocking" that they were going to do was to the total production ie. like putting together a puzzle, and then someone moves or takes a piece out. How does that make you feel? Lots of explaining and warning of the dire consequences of not cooperating. She then took the large group (50) to the auditorium/multipurpose rm. She got them lined up by character roles ie. "mamas", "papas", "daughters" "sons" There was some confusions but soon they were gone and she called back that she would send back "groups" to be measured with the "student costume manager girls". This happened right away...however, they all seemed come at once. They were not "calm" but just being what kids, this age, are...interactive and noisy. The tech teacher would go and call out a name to be measure and wouldn't be heard the first or second time. She called to her own kids to "tell the kids to get out from behind the scenery". Toward the end, I suggested we just ask for all those who hadn't been measured. I usually wrote down the measurements while she measured - mostly girls. I volunteered not to measure them but to do the few boys we had. One was rather reluctant to put the end of the measuring tape up in his crotch to get the length of the inseam. I wasn't about to do it. One had those "low-rider" shorts and I had to explain to him that the period costumes of men in Russia had pants that rode higher in the crotch and went to the floor. He seemed to understand. When we finished all 50 or so...several absent... I offered to help consolidate the two lists developed into one. The tech teacher said she had it handled. It was "halcyon" again...no problem. I decided to take my leave and thanked her etc. I had to walk out to the front and walk all the way around because they had locked us in. Probably a wise thing to do these days. All the doors automatically lock when you go out of them and someone has to come and let you in. This is also a good idea. It probably helps keep the "halcyon days" intact for these wonderfully lively and enthusiastic youngsters. Ahhh youth! Bob


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