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The Surveyor.

Bill hadn’t played his cello, for years.

We’d both studied with the same first teacher, Dimitri, but several years apart, never crossing paths coming up. However, about a year ago, in that roundabout random way, somebody hooked us up and Bill became yet another adult member of the studio of multi-aged students I’d established back in 1989 after my first trip into the world of Suzuki-based musical instruction at Stephens’ Point, WI.

The two of us, Bill and I, were now nearly 65 years old.

We private teachers of musical instruments run the gamut. Some are self taught, promoters of their own unique styles and approaches; others are conventionally and soundly trained by conservatories; still others come by their skills employing a mixture of acquired pedagogies and “shoot from the hip” instinct.

But, we all take on students, and that for reasons both selfish and noble. Some do because it’s easy money, no accounting for quality; others want to produce the next Perlman, Botti, or Ma; but among us authentic, Suzuki-registered devotees is a collective desire to help each, young or old, grow to enjoy the ability to make good, solid, beautiful music.

Bill was immediately likeable. He had the twinkly eyes, a clean cut presence, and a gentle demeanor. And, he said, his daughter (with whom I’d collaborated while she’d been a college student) wanted him to get some help with intonation. Sure thing, I told him; he’d come to the right place.

We set about some serious ear training. Dimitri had always been about tone, the bow trajectory, himself tall and lean, striding back and forth before us with puffing pipe, declaring with sweeping, long armed gestures: “Seeeng mit de chellow! SEEEEENG!” And, seeeeeng we did. We sang with our bows, drawing full resonance, sound albeit perhaps sourly out of tune, but big and glorious for Dimitri.

Bill already knew how to produce full, Dimitri style tone. So, the two of us worked on his ear, via his muscle memory, with keen aural attention. Pitch by pitch, Bill mastered the G major scale, pocket by pocket, until he could get through a whole Book I tune without losing its tonal center.

We moved on, into pieces which had more complex structure. He’d played some pretty advanced works of music by master composers, in the years between our lessons with Dimitri and the day we’d finally met. They’d been out of tune then, and they were now as well. We addressed all that, phrase by phrase, and there was no denying how much he cared, how earnestly he applied himself, and how each week he’d demonstrate noticeable improvement.

But, once we were all forced to go virtual, and Zoom et al afforded us zero opportunity to play together, I began to pick up on another curious feature about Bill. When playing alone, he seemed completely devoid of any internal rhythm. Even when counting, he’d start out fine but lose it midway, either accelerating or dragging until the steady beat was a vapor.

Bill understood note values. He realized that they each had specific duration. He just couldn’t express duration, when he played. Relative recognition, but complete imprecision, there was no steady beat in his consciousness.

Before anyone reading this thinks that I am in the habit of denigrating or throwing shade on any of my students, stay with me; there’s a point, here, and it’s probably not what you might be thinking.

Teachers are supposed to care about their students, hands down. But, I believe we should also strive to know them. Know them, fully. Get into their heads. And, with adults, this necessitates getting into their histories.

What was Bill about? How had he spent the bulk of his adult life?

Not as a cellist. Nope. Bill was a Security guard.

In fact, he’d begun his career as a policeman, in one of our outlying counties. From there, he’d moved to Baltimore MD, joining a force of about four thousand. Then, he became a Federal Marshall, spending decades in this field and, now, in retirement, Bill was the lone Security Guard for a major, local medical center.

As I sat listening to Bill play, I tried to get deeply into his brain. I wanted to become familiar with how his lifelong habits informed everything about him. Why was he unable to stay focused on the steady beat, even with the metronome pounding into his left ear?

I followed him from the beginning of the song to the end, and then it hit me. Bill had been trained to employ a global view. He was all about the entire scope of the environment, not the details. Any officer caught fixating on one aspect, one person’s behavior, is a cop waiting to be overtaken by a crafty criminal specializing in slight of hand. No wonder he couldn’t stay with the pulse; about a minute in, his brain would go panoramic. To the observer, his mind may have appeared to “wander”, to have “lost concentration”; but, in Bill’s world, he was merely returning to his job — as grand surveyor.

Bill being more than just pleasant, but gallant, he took to my confronting this with grace and deference. In fact, he concurred completely. I posited that he might, at work, entertain the occasional interchange of small talk with the proverbial smile and nod, but that absorbing conversational content was all an act. Again, he concurred. He didn’t like big parties, he said. He couldn’t concentrate on anything anybody ever said to him. At this point, surprise; I told him I was exactly the same. Relatability, the essence of common ground.

So, now Bill had a plan. He could harness his widely scanning, revolving, weather vane of a brain to the task of actual focus for 3 solid minutes during the passage of time required to produce a musical tune. He knew now when during the piece he’d likely veer off, and would set his intent with resolve to stay with that pulse through to the end.

Many teachers might question this conclusion. Excessive over think. Unnecessary analysis of basic inability. I stand in challenge, to all that. To my seasoned experience, there is no such thing, inability. There is only absence of informed understanding. The brain, and the mind which governs it, continues to produce – new cells, new blood vessel pathways; the mind, who is kidding whom, here? is as infinite as the God Who created it.

As we age, let’s remember that our successes are never either defined or limited by years.

Bill, the cellist, will tell you.

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© 1/11/22 Ruth Ann Scanzillo/littlebarefeetblog.com. All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. Thank you for respecting rights of authorship, and for being the better person.

The Back End.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13.

I could have.

Word was, you were breaking the law if you gave life saving medication to a friend for whom it had not been prescribed.

On November 28, 2021, I had enough of such medication sufficient to save a life.

Hoarding my stash of physician prescribed Ivermectin for weeks I’d calculated that, if I took the recommended biweekly dose, it would get me through Christmas. The packets sat beside me, on the sofa, surrounded by their accompanying bottles of vitamins and immune supporting supplements, filling the place where another person might sit were anybody to actually be in the same room with me.

Only one person actually had been, in some 18 months – just for an hour, and not even on that sofa but in the chair nearby. I’d opted to respond radically to the whole nightmare by refusing all vaccines and all human contact, sure that in just a couple more months the doors could finally open.

We all know how that panned out.

So, now it was late November, and my friend with whom I’d just spoken maybe ten days prior was sick. Moreover, he’d been sick – for over a week – only now contacting me to say that the product whose repurposed action I’d recommended wasn’t helping and he seemed worse.

Upon painstaking query, mostly on his part as his mind was in such a fog he could barely read the package insert, we discovered that the product he’d opted to purchase was one I’d not even known to be on any market, animal or human; it was, in fact, a formulation designed for subcutaneous injection, not even meant to be consumed by animals let alone people.

Furthermore, somebody else he knew had been consulted in the interim between purchase and use, somebody who claimed to be a physician, somebody who directed him to measure it using a syringe she gave him, mix it with water, and drink it. The drug hadn’t been absorbed into his tissues in any therapeutic amount, and the additives alone would prove deadly.

My sense of altruism always having been mediated by a narcissistic ego, I rationalized that one of my precious doses should maintain him overnight until he could obtain a legitimate prescription. In grand, meticulous style only possible among the most self serving I engineered a pickup by his step daughter who lived at the opposite end of the county, directing her to purchase the replacement pulse oximeter he badly needed plus the nasal steroid from the protocol I followed before heading west to my porch to retrieve another supplement I’d purchased plus the single, relinquished dose.

I didn’t have his house address. Emailing a colleague, I obtained it. I could have gathered my own pulse oximeter and the rest of the medicine, and driven enough doses out to him that evening to carry him through the next several days. I had enough. I could have defied the law, and saved his life.

But, I didn’t.

Relinquishing to the hierarchy which would play out, both medical and familial, I would spend the next ten days enduring his slow, incremental, predictable death.

So many have said it’s all about choice. His choice, not mine. Sure, I led him toward the drug. I even led him toward more than one option for its use. What I didn’t do was lead him toward a product never meant for consumption, a product which – though a carrier of life saving medicine – had been prepared in such a way so as to prevent that medicine from rendering any therapeutic effect. That part I didn’t do, because my failure was in never investigating all the potential options, never discovering that while one alternative product applied topically could render benefit, another of similar name sold on the same shelf could render harm. I didn’t do that. What I did do was help create the scenario in which he chose to act out his decisions. I prepared the way, and he moved.

Forty eight hours hence, he’d taken the single dose of pills, felt better the next morning, but called his assigned doctor, accepted a prescription of albuterol and a different steroid and, by evening, declared that he needed to go to the hospital. My pleas that he just wait, and get the prescription filled, those would be subject to his further mental confusion; he’d called the doctor whose number I’d given, but had not realized a need to sign up to secure an appointment. Now, he would go to the hospital, instead, where all options for further treatment from this medication would cease.

The chronology of details which would follow do not bear repeating. They do not bear repeating because I cannot bear repeating them. My friend, my devoted professional colleague, a man I had known since high school with whom I’d performed countless weddings and masses over some thirty years, lay in a hospital ward for ten more days while the life ebbed out of his body. Something about kidney function. Holding his own. No worse. No better. The palliative definition of dying.

I could have saved his life. There is no doubt. Enough ivermectin over a course of just a few days would have turned that ship around. We’d still have our sweet blues and bluegrass violinist, our quiet, twinkling, thoughtful, observant, sweet, gifted friend, maybe for thirty more years, reaching the age of 90 still appearing at most weddings, college chapel convocations, jazz and blues festivals, rustic county parties on rigged stages, symphonic concerts in grand theaters. The man who played string quartets of Moon Dog’s music at Carnegie Hall. I could have single handedly saved that man’s life.

I didn’t. I groused, and fretted, and pulled my old lady sweater closer around my diminishing frame. I messaged his family members. I begged them to do for him what I should have done. I implored them to take the legal risk I could have taken. I passed the buck to terrified siblings and their offspring. I cowered in my tower.

The good definitely die young. The selfish linger. From their wheelchairs in the nursing homes, the mean make louder demands. They strike against their caregivers. They claim every next breath as if entitled. Their bodies remain on the earth until the most bitter of final moments, draining all within reach of every last bit of compassion and endurance.

Three unsolicited psychics have said there is longevity in my body. My singular dread is that I be one such scourge on the best of society. If you survive, and the years go by, and you should happen to find me at the back end, hunched over in a chair, squinting and moaning for my next bit of expected attention, please walk away. Please leave me to my just reward, the embodiment of the failure to love greatly.

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© 12/25/2021 Ruth Ann Scanzillo, author. Littlebarefeetblog.com

The Implicit Complicit.

What is implicit trust?

It’s implied trust. It’s trust which is almost automatic, reflected in actions which represent that trust. Unfortunately, massive numbers of people act on implicit trust – and, most of them never take the extra steps required to verify that the foundation of their trust is worthy.

The medical industry was thought to be an institution worthy of implicit trust. But, as of about 1947, when the Rockefellers basically paid for the medical school concept and gave birth to pharmacology, American citizens handed off their precious willingness to trust to those whose agenda had nothing to do with actual human health. What I have learned by delving into the documented evidence as disclosed by those with direct access to it is both mind boggling and spirit scathing.

Now, the insurance industry, with planned obsolescence(calculations based in likely length of life – did you know that your coverage is based in your predicted date of death?) as its governing mentality, is the foundational funding source for all American medicine. Corporations offer major medical insurance to their employees, and the medical industry takes profit to the bank under the auspices of care and compassion. Individual medical practitioners are neither at fault for this, nor can they exert any power or control over it; in actual fact, they are completely subject to it!

Ask any physician how much is spent per year on their own insurance, particularly malpractice, and you will have gathered a valuable piece of data to support this argument. Yes; everyone except the insurance companies, and the medical corporations funded by them, are now their obedient subjects.

Enter the sick patient, and the family surrounding that patient. Whence their actual choices? What are the parameters, the freedoms and limits, of said choices?

Primary care physicians only think that they can act independently; in reality, unless they give up all affiliation, they cannot. Only recently, at the state level, dictates have been handed down to all of them collectively: support the promoted vaccines exclusively as treatment for covid, with no discussion or debate of alternative treatments allowed, or risk losing the very medical license one has earned. That is fact. Look it up.

What of hospitals, or major medical centers? Private hospitals depend on private funding, just like private educational institutions. These struggle mightily to remain financially afloat as they witness the swift conglomeration of corporate consolidation. Now, major medical centers’ monikers reflect not venerated medical legends by name, but the financial institutions which fund them. And, said financial institutions are invariably insurance based.

Yes. The insurance industry has displaced every other industry in both power and influence. The insurance industry calls all the shots – an alleged institution which is based in controlling how much money is allocated to humans based entirely upon their predicted life span. How chilling is that. Makes me want to scurry out to the garden and check on the winter vegetables. Oh, wait. I’m behind. I have to plant those, first.

Know this reality. You are hardly free. You are become a subject – not to the Power greater than self, but to an entity which seeks to displace the very Power which breathed life into each of us. All we have remaining is our will, and our determination, and our tenacity to withstand.

We must no longer be complicit. We must mobilize. Strength in numbers, while we are still alive, defying the very insidiously corrupt system which seeks to determine our very length of days. Let’s put our faith in our collective strength, and make that trust implicit.

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© 12/01/21 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. No copying, in whole or part including translation, permitted without signed written permission of the author. Respect the rights of the Creator, and the created creatives. Thank you, especially to Dr. David E. Martin whose mentoring influenced this piece.

littlebarefeetblog.com

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