When I'm about to leave the house and music is playing, particularly ravishing music--Bach, Dawn Upshaw, Chet Baker--I do not turn off the radio. I take my keys, my camera, and wallet, and with my cell phone clipped to my waistband go out the door and down the driveway, pleased with myself as if I had done something remarkable. I don't leave the radio on for security, unlike a friend who used to leave his radio on to frighten away thieves.
The other day as I walked away from my house to the sound of "Night in Tunisia," I thought about leaving things on, not just the radio. All the books I've loved are still on, still playing. The volume is turned down but will increase if I open the book and read. The paintings that turned me on are still on. The ink still seems fresh on the letters my mother wrote to me: "Dearest Miriam, I want to tell you I can enjoy life again. My vital signs are good."
A few blocks away, the Buddhist monks have made a sand painting. On October 21 they will perform "The ceremony of dissolution." They will destroy the painting. I can't be like them. I want things to go on.