Last night I took two friends, a music critic and a jazz pianist, to watch New York City Ballet dance what George Balanchine’s admirers refer to as “the Greek program”: Apollo, Orpheus, and Agon, the three great Balanchine-Stravinsky collaborations. The pianist was seeing all three dances for the first time, and the critic had never seen any of Balanchine’s ballets. They reacted pretty much the way I’d expected, and we went our separate ways after the performance looking as though we’d all had one too many. Or maybe two.
I got up at seven-thirty this morning, knocked out the last 850 words of an essay on The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and shot the piece off to my editor in Washington via e-mail (the galleys are rolling out of my fax machine as I’m typing this sentence). Then I jumped in a cab and headed crosstown to meet my friend Bass Player at Knoedler & Company, where we spent an hour looking at Milton Avery: Onrushing Waves (the show closes on Saturday, so if you haven’t seen it yet, don’t wait!). From there we went to Tibor de Nagy to see Jane Freilicher: Paintings 1954-2004, she for the first time, I for the second. By then we were booming and zooming, so instead of hitting a third gallery, we decided to grab a bite to eat, after which we talked our heads off. (Bass Player and I are so closely in sync that we don’t really need to tell each other what we’re thinking, but we do it anyway.)
At length she went downtown to pick up her bass and take a lesson, while I returned home to do…nothing. I have no more appointments today, no deadline to hit, no work of any kind that can’t wait, no show to see tonight, and nowhere in particular that I need to be until 1:45 Saturday afternoon. Limitless luxury, in other words, made all the sweeter by the fact that it’s so bitterly cold outside. What do I care? My calendar is blank, my refrigerator full. Josh White is playing on my iBook, The Ladykillers, The Lavender Hill Mob, and Kind Hearts and Coronets are cued up on the DVR, and a book I’m looking forward to reading awaits me in the loft. The only thing I have to do in the next twenty-three hours is keep the solemn promise I made with hand on heart to Bass Player at lunch today: I’m going to pop open my watercolor set and put brush to paper before I go to bed tonight.
I know exactly how lucky I am today, in part because I also know how it feels to be so busy that you can’t see straight. As a matter of fact, I’ve been feeling outrageously happy for the past couple of days. Whatever troubles the future may hold in store for me are currently being held in abeyance, and instead of worrying about them, or even thinking about them, I’ve been following the advice of the man who made the ballets my friends and I saw last night. “Why are you stingy with yourselves?” Mr. B used to ask his dancers. “Why are you holding back? What are you saving for–for another time? There are no other times. There is only now. Right now.” And that’s where I’ve been all today: in the moment, and glad to be. Ecstatic, really.
I’ll see you Monday.