Monday, May 20, 2013

A Class Act

My well-laid plans to take the train to New York on Saturday were scuttled on account of the calamitous derailment that took place in Connecticut on Friday. Without a car and scrambling to find a ride to the Putnam Feis, I was fortunate to catch a ride with the matriarch of Boston's Irish dancing scene, Rita O'Shea.

I thought I'd share this video from the Boston Globe. It's a short piece about Rita's involvement in Irish dancing and it captures, as well as anything I could ever write, why I love being involved in the world of Irish music and dance.

A lesson learned both as a high school teacher and as an Irish musician echoes what Rita says. That is, years from now students will hardly remember what grade they were given, what honor they received, what medal they won. They will remember, however, spending time with those who have loved them and supported them, those with whom they have laughed and and shared a significant part of their lives. I'm no stranger to criticizing the excesses of high school, or of Irish dancing, but I'd be the first to support any event bringing children and their parents together, any opportunity for a family to come together in a common endeavor.

What Lisa Chaplin says in the video, that it's rare to find people involved in something for 30, 40, or 50 years is true: it is rare. Our culture moves us from one fad to the next and, too often, we fail to put down deep roots. I think a lot of societal pressure pushes us to make sure kids are "well-rounded" but it seems that this often leads to shallowness. I'd rather find a person totally and passionately involved in one thing - music, art, sports, politics - than a milquetoast personality who dabbles in many without going too deep.

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