Advance and Retire

Atticus had his Irish step dance debut a few weeks ago for a hooley put on by the Champagne Academy of Irish Dance.

Holiday hooley

Holiday hooley

We were in the ceili band playing for the dance and I was really proud to be joined by a few of my students who really held their own playing for the dancers.

Holiday hooley

Playing for a ceili is a meditative experience because we repeat one tune many more times than we might normally if we were playing for a session or a performance. The familiarity of the tunes and the repetition lulls me into an altered state of mind.

The caller teaches the dance and then, when the dancers are ready to bring the tempo up to dance to the live music, calls out instructions to keep them on track.

I recall sitting there fiddling, watching the bouncing and twirling dancers, communicating with my band mates and students by means of winks and smiles, catching glimpses of my sons partying with their beloved babysitter.

Holiday hooley

All this set to the background sound of the music of my heart played on the pipes, the fiddle, and the drum along with the caller’s reminders to “advance, advance, retire, retire. Advance, advance, retire, retire”.

Holiday hooley

I had a rare moment of perfect clarity about the cycle of seasons, the bittersweet truth of ends and beginnings, of children growing and changing. Advance, advance, retire, retire.

Between the hooley and this moment, there has been the crush of holidays (Christmas and Liam’s birthday), the peace of retreat (our cabin in the woods New Year’s tradition), and the resumption of Regular Life. Through all this, I still hear the refrain in my mind (advance, advance, retire, retire) when I’m washing the dishes, walking the dog, anytime that my mind goes still for a moment.

It’s not a bad soundtrack to a day.

One response to “Advance and Retire

  1. Tara, what a beautiful thought to have and express. Thank you for the reminder that I need to take time to “retire” rather than always get caught up in the “advance”. Happy New Year to your family!

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