Sunday, April 28, 2019

Tucson, AZ: Music For Dying

Crepuscular 1. December 2006.


A couple of years ago, I came upon an NPR episode called What Music For the Dying Sounds Like. I said to myself: Fascinating.

And: What a good article on which to base a lesson plan for my English language learners. Which I did, and which I still use today.

As a side note (get it?), years ago, I created a mental playlist for my funeral, which, unfortunately, I won't hear, should it even be played. But for the record (get it?), here is that playlist:

Odd choices, perhaps, considering I'm not a Christian, but there you go. I like the songs.

But I've digressed, because the purpose of this article is to talk about music for the dying, not the already done dead.

Crepuscular 2. December 2006.


But before I get to the music-while-dying part:

One Saturday afternoon in El Paso earlier this year, I participated in the Tumblewords Project writing workshop. Dr. David Romo led the day’s workshop, focusing on history and poetry. Dr. Romo brought his double bass with him; he played its rumbly, jazzy self to accompany some of our poetry readings. A very cool touch. He talked about “liminality” in his writing perspective.

Liminality, he explained, refers to being on a threshold, being between a past and a present. A rather poetic definition is here:

The word liminal comes from the Latin word limen, meaning threshold – any point or place of entering or beginning. A liminal space is the time between the ‘what was’ and the ‘next.’ It is a place of transition, waiting, and not knowing. Liminal space is where all transformation takes place, if we learn to wait and let it form us.

Dr. Romo self-identifies as a fronterizo who grew up in El Paso, someone who, as another author describes him, is a “borderlander, someone who embodies two languages and cultures and moves smoothly between them.

Dr. Romo described the complication of answering mundane questions at Border Patrol checkpoints such as: Where are you from? Where are you going? Why are you going there?

This made me laugh. I had a similar experience when people asked me in the past six months: Where do you live? In the past six months, I flowed from Mexico City to Missouri to Louisiana to El Paso, and then to Las Cruces.  Thus my answer: Well, nowhere at the moment. Perhaps should have said: I live in Liminal. It’s a small border town.

Liminality also refers to " .... borderland between life and death."

Crepuscular 3. December 2006.

Songs for the dying

When I met Katie on that Monday morning in Tucson, she told me she was a member of Tucson's Threshold Choir, which (I read later in one of its cards):
"..... offers comfort through bedside song - for those in hospice care, those who are healing, those facing challenges, and their families and caregivers."
The Threshold Choir is "kindness made audible."

Katie's introduction of the Threshold Choir to me kind of took my breath away. Well.


Crepuscular 4. December 2006.

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