I know I promised to observe National Nothing Day, but I learned something new today about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and I figured I’d write a little something. Actually, I was not idle. So much for Nothing Day.
Dr. King liked jazz music, especially bebop. Dr. King said this about jazz: “When life offers no order and meaning, the musician creates an order and meaning from the sounds of the earth which flow through his instrument.”
Sena and I like smooth jazz, which doesn’t highlight improvisation as much as bebop—and that’s about all I know about jazz. I’m really more of a blues, rock and roll, and classical fan. I’m not really much of an improviser, I guess. I rely on recipes and frozen pizzas when I fix meals, which thank goodness is infrequent. Sena doesn’t use recipes and changes things up a lot, not just in the kitchen.
I found out that King even alluded to a jazz musician’s composition in his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 1965. A friend of King shared that the civil rights leader had used the refrain “Now is the time” from Charlie Parker’s 1945 classic tune.
“Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to life our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.”
I’m just guessing, but I think Parker probably improvised his music a lot. On the other hand, as I’ve grown older, I’ve pretty much scripted what I do in my life. When I was much younger, I improvised more. It’s a common path. There’s nothing especially wrong with regularity and predictability—bowel movements come to mind as one example. I’m a geezer after all.
But sometimes my relationships with others might have been helped if I had been a little more spontaneous, a little nimbler and more flexible with my attitude and responses. I guess that goes for all of us.
Now is the time to do something about that. It’s not too late.