|Yep that's me after a 22 hour flight to Blighty|
I was in one marching band or another through my formative years. Being from Michigan, I marched in all weather--sweltering heat, driving rain and blizzards--for football games and parades. Recent contact with my former music director, Jim Wright, from Western Michigan University (Go Broncos!!) has brought back a lot of memories from all those performances as well as the parties that went with them. But most of all I remember Band Camp when everyone who had anything to do with the Marching Band had to go to school a week earlier than everyone else to prepare for the long football season ahead. Jim calling out "squeeze the sphincter" to perfect the glide step is one of my enduring memories. I also remember the French Horn section (after two years of orthodontic work, my embouchure wasn't ready for returning to playing the trumpet) having to backwards march whilst the rifle guards tossed their rifles over our heads. It had to be one of the most terrifying--and perhaps exhilarating--things I had ever done. If it went right, it was amazing. If it went wrong, someone was going to end up with a broken nose.
One thing I always hated was marking time. One would think it would be easy just lifting your feet in time but actually the technique is quite gruelling as well as difficult. Jim or the Drum Major would be yelling for us to squeeze the sphincters and lift our knees higher until everyone got it right. And trust me, that could take a long time. It didn't matter if the weather was boiling hot, freezing cold or if it was pissing it down, for me marking time meant I wasn't going anywhere.
And so now, having just returned from an epic 5 continent, 5 month astrology tour, I find myself back in Walthamstow, back to a teaching post and back to waiting for something to happen. That thing waiting to happen is my return to India where I will take up my post as Secretary General of International Affairs and Professor of Western Astrology for Krishnamurti Institute of Astrology. So you can see why I'm a little impatient to get a move on and why I might regard this period of waiting as "marking time".
But, as with many things, passing time allows us to develop a whole new perspective. And so it is with my hours spent marking time all those years ago in marching band. And here's my new perspective: it may seem as if I'm not doing much but there's a whole lot of processing going on. So here's a little summary:
1) I cried at Sydney airport as I prepared to fly home. It was the end of an epic journey and so much had happened I was both sorry to see it end and concerned about what would be greeting me when I returned home.
2) After returning home, it felt like I had never really left
3) It really did seem as if I picked up the reins for my teaching career as if I had only been gone for a long weekend
4) My friends and family at home (that includes the four legged ones) hadn't changed much
5) I finally collected my diploma from the Faculty of Astrological Studies after 18 years. It was not the great feeling of achievement I had always imagined it would be
6) I missed the Church choir and I missed my Wynton (my trumpet)
And yet, everything has changed.
1) I now know what I am going to need to live abroad for an extended period of time. Marmite, pasta, mushy peas and a few carefully chosen astrology books (including my much-missed ephemeris) are high on my list of priorities.
2) Oh dear Goddess, the bills can pile up quickly
3) Having taught a few days at a primary school, I despair of the transition process. Guess who has a lot to say about this. Oh dear Goddess how I missed my pupils.
4) Despite everyone seeming to be the same, there are some crucial, if imperceptible, changes happening. I see this most in the impending birthday of my beloved daughter who will be 18 in a few days time. Where has the time gone? She has blossomed into a sensible (despite a few hiccups along the way), hard working and compassionate person in her own right. Her maturity, beauty, intelligence and strength--despite having me for a mother--is nothing short of miraculous.
5) There was a time when gaining the FAS diploma seemed to be the only thing holding me back from being a professional astrologer. I became a teacher to fund astrology classes and I refused to give myself permission to take on any other astrology courses until that diploma was completed. And now that I have it, I can see that there is SO much more to learn. Since passing the diploma, I've done Hellenistic, Traditional (Horary and Electional) astrology courses and I'm throwing myself into Vedic studies. And I'm only more thirsty. So thirsty that I'm learning Hindi/Sanskrit so I can get to grips with The Vedas. Thirsty. Gimme water.
6) I'm not feeling Easter. I feel bad about saying that but I missed Christmas, Lent, Maundy Thursday and now Good Friday. And I haven't even taken Wynton out of his case.
So there you have it: everything's the same and yet everything has changed. I'm marking time.