Mrs. T and I were planning to fly down to Florida tomorrow morning and take up temporary residence on our beloved Sanibel Island, there to reflect on the events of 2016. Alas, she’s grappling with some lingering health issues that will keep us from hitting the road on schedule, so we’re going to hole up in Connecticut and drink our champagne there.
No matter where I am, I’ve got a lot to think about, much of it having to do with Satchmo at the Waldorf, my first play, which was performed in Baton Rouge, Chicago, Colorado Springs, Sacramento, San Francisco, New Hampshire, and West Palm Beach in the year just past. I got to see several of those productions, and along the way I met up with old friends, made brand-new ones, and generally had the time of my life.
As many of you will recall, I staged the West Palm Beach production of Satchmo myself. It was my professional directing debut, and it was an unforgettable, life-changing experience. In addition to working on Satchmo, I attended the premiere of my latest collaboration with Paul Moravec, a work for chorus and orchestra called Music, Awake! It’s since been recorded by John Sinclair and the Bach Festival Society Chorus and Orchestra of Winter Park, so those of you who couldn’t be on hand for the first performance in April will get to hear what you missed in due course.
I also started writing a new play, which has since been “workshopped” (a damnably clumsy word, but I don’t know a better one) three times. If all continues to go well, I’ll tell you what it’s about at some point in January.
Needless to say, these things happened in the interstices of my day job as drama critic and arts columnist of The Wall Street Journal, in which capacity I saw and reviewed a hundred shows in New York and elsewhere in America. I also wrote two dozen “Sightings” columns for the Journal and a dozen-odd essays for Commentary and other magazines. That’s a full year’s work right there. Small wonder that I’m feeling a bit weary as 2006 staggers to a close.
I had to leave Mrs. T behind on Sanibel Island last January to open Satchmo in Chicago and San Francisco. This year, by contrast, I’m not going anywhere to do anything. We’ll be spending the whole month together, most of it in a place that we’ve come to regard in recent years as our winter home-away-from-home, and I don’t expect to feel even slightly guilty about turning loose of my everyday life.
As I wrote two years ago on a similar occasion:
I suppose I could justify this protracted stretch of inactivity by claiming that I’ve been lying fallow, letting my creative batteries recharge themselves, but I’m not going to do any such thing. I don’t think inactivity needs to be justified. It took me the better part of a lifetime to figure out that you don’t need a reason to take it easy. Now that I’ve finally learned my lesson after years of compulsive overwork, I don’t propose to unlearn it by coming up with elaborate justifications for doing what I’ve been longing to do for weeks and weeks.
Pope Francis, it seems, agrees with me. “A time of rest, for those who have completed their work, is necessary, obligatory and should be taken seriously: by spending time with one’s family and respecting holidays as moments of spiritual and physical recharging,” he recently declared. So now I have it on impeccable authority (if you believe in authority, papal or otherwise) that watching the sun set, especially on Sanibel Island, is sufficient unto the day thereof, especially when I’m in the company of Mrs. T, who likes it as much as I do.
And so ends the crowded year in which I turned sixty and embarked on what I hope will gradually evolve into yet another part-time career. In preparation for the arrival of 2017, allow me to post, as has become my custom, the Ogden Nash poem that I like to share with you each New Year’s Eve, followed by my customary end-of-the-year good wishes:
Come, children, gather round my knee;
Something is about to be.
Tonight’s December Thirty-First,
Something is about to burst.
The clock is crouching, dark and small,
Like a time bomb in the hall.
Hark! It’s midnight, children dear.
Duck! Here comes another year.
To all of you who, like me, suspect that chance is in the saddle and rides mankind, I hope that the year to come treats you not unkindly, and that your lives, like mine, will be warmed by hope and filled with love.
See you next year!