to be or not to dooby-dooby-do

sharon hope fabriz
3 min readFeb 11, 2024

A Post for the Lunar New Year

photo by shf / albuquerque, nm

Two days ago I received a text from a friend who hails from a younger generation than I do. She grew up within the family that lived across the street from me and my two children back in the ’90s and into the 21st century on a modest, tree-filled street in a mid-century suburb of a Texas megapolis. She’s moved to higher elevations and now teaches school, a vocation that puts us in a dear fellowship of understanding and respect. More than that, we are both dreamers, visionaries, seekers of meaning in the layers of living that get murky and muddled and sometimes grab our boots and have us stuck for a while.

After our serendipitous meeting back in the old neighborhood a few days ago (both of us back in the megapolis to give time to our mothers) she, whom I will name Bella here, texted me this: Do you by chance have any words of wisdom of yours, or others, to share as advice on not giving up and staying positive to believe in change and love in hard times?

This is my answer.

Not giving up and staying positive and to believe in change and love in hard times are instruments of longing put into words. In the same sentence, they become a jazz tune, piano, drum, saxophone, bass. One paces the melody for a while and then another lifts a new version, new rhythm, carrying the song until another slips in, sometimes applause rising between the spotlighting and sometimes the transition so mild that its flawless design leads to one collective sigh in the presence of such beauty, humility and grace.

I’ve started listening to mellow club jazz in the mornings. I imagine the songs being played well past the dinner hour when musicians gather for their ceremonial rituals of improvisation, lights dim, acoustics perfect, and ears like mine willing to hover in the land of not-knowing what note will arrive in the air next. To listen with my morning coffee puts an altogether new level to the beginning of the day.

What kind of answer is that, Bella might ask. It’s about finding the metaphor of the moment — stepping back and looking at whatever the scene may be as part of a bigger story that gathers its strength from the back-and-forth of tensions and inclinations and self-expression and interpretive signals that arrive in one distinct moment in time. It’s finding the ease of being in an audience of observers willing to let be what will be when listening is all there is energy for and getting up there on stage with an instrument when the spirit inclines. It’s about not being so attached to the melody that it becomes a lasso but knowing that the melody is eventually what will hold the whole song together, a gravity much akin to love.

Not giving up and staying positive and to change and love in hard times is not a linear path, not a set recipe, not a combination of intentions that can fit into one lesson plan. But the aspiration that they all can exist in the same sentence, a question, from a heart that yearns for them simultaneously is a sign that they can, that the dream has been dreamed, that the ground is fertile, that the boots can emerge from the murk and muddle and take the heart where it wants to go. One step, one measure, one dreamy question at a time.

photo by shf / keith haring exhibit at the broad, la (2023)