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Posts Tagged ‘Freedom’

Today marks the start of the annual tour for Southwind, an elite drum and bugle corps representing the Southeast region’s best percussion and brass players.

(Oh, and coincidentally, today marks this blog’s 8th anniversary – thank you to all my readers and friends for 8 incredible years!!! xxxooo). Back to Southwind:

They will travel nearly 6,000 miles in six weeks, performing and competing in cities throughout the Eastern seaboard and the Midwest, culminating with a world class competition at the Colt’s football stadium in Indianapolis.

Southwind began 40 years ago and carefully selects its members from rigorous auditions and recommendations. This year, its members hail from 15 states. Lucky for us (and our son who plays the euphonium), they chose our county as Ground Zero for their many weeks of rehearsal camps leading up to today, so we didn’t have to go far to visit him.

Last night they held their dress rehearsal, before they leave tonight for Valdosta, GA, their first stop on the tour circuit. We will catch up with Southwind again next Saturday in upstate Alabama for one of their competitions, before they head north for New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Michigan and points beyond.

Some highlights from yesterday:

The schedule is dizzyingly intense, with few breaks

Local high schools house the Corps; boys in the gym, girls in the cafeteria, members over 18 in another room (members are from both high schools and universities)

Shoe blow-out is common – these students engage in marathon-training conditions in blistering heat and are fed special high-energy diets and go through gallons of water a day

Did I say “blistering heat?” This was what the sign said yesterday as I was leaving camp at 4:30pm

The supplies and resources necessary to pull off a tour of this magnitude are phenomenal. How every detail comes together is a miracle of the many staff and volunteers who expertly think of everything!

You just never know who’ll show up on tour with Southwind!

(wonder if this guy ever wishes he’d taken up the trumpet instead?) Everyone helps haul the instruments, props and supplies

Meals are served outdoors and consist of lots of high protein, high carb foods. I’m told that spicy and sugary foods are off the list for the most part.

It takes a crew to wash the uniforms, a crew to cook and clean up, a crew to keep track of the students, a crew to organize and pull off the tour, etc. Check out the Southwind website to see their talented Visual Staff and Percussion Staff.

Warming up on the field while the rest of the Corps unloads

Full percussion warming up with brass getting ready behind (note everyone’s gallon jugs precisely at their sides)

Just like a pro ball team, each position/section has its coaches. For the Corps, this includes experts in fine-tuning (literally, as in ensuring drums are properly tuned). The coach listens to each drum carefully, getting down to drum-level with his ear and instructs each player accordingly to ensure perfection.

Each instrument has to be inspected, each day

For each performance, they have a very short amount of time to assemble all instruments, props and supplies, so they learn, among other skills, how to, um, for lack of a better term, haul ass

The drum majors take the field. Yes, that is a roller coaster in the far background but it was so hot we didn’t see anybody on the rides!

The dress rehearsal turned into an un-dress rehearsal, as the searing heat even after the sun went down, prompted them to spare the uniforms for the tour and they did the rest of rehearsal in their bibbers (and white gloves – never ditch the white gloves, so sayeth the Lady, no matter what the conditions!)

The choreography, precision and talent are mind-blowing!

The performers put their heart and soul into each note

This year’s show is called, “The Cage,” in four movements. The first movement portrays what it is like to feel caged – the constraint, the sacrifice of self, the pain of stuck-ness. The second movement illustrates the frenzied attempts to break out of the cage, unsuccessfully.

Movement three is about what we might call learned helplessness, or accepting our circumstances, perhaps complacency and/or ditching the dream to be free and happy. Choosing to settle. Learning to be “happy” and giving up on potential.

In the last movement, the cage finally opens and we experience the joy of true freedom, being able to live life to its fullest capacity and the relief of being out in the open at last.

The show is copyrighted so we are forbidden to upload videos of the performance (plus we don’t want to give our secrets away to our competition before the tour!), else I would have loved to share the power of the sound and theatrics this talented group of students and staff produce.

Am I outside the cage, or in? What about you?

And, just like a ball team, they have their own mini-ambulance

Away from the action, empty hangers, backpacks and instrument cases line the fence

Ready to roll up the road to the next venue!

I caught up with him after last year’s show in Hiram, GA

Thanks, God, for opportunities You give us and our children to exercise talents, discover new skills and to experience great adventures. Thank You for freeing us of the many cages of our own making in which we ensnare ourselves….and may we always fully trust and be free in Christ.

(This hot summer – and now 16 and driving! – he values a shorter haircut than last year lol) – Godspeed, Jonathan William and all of Southwind!

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Evanescent… what a great word!

I had to look it up to be sure I understood its full meaning:

“After you lose a loved one, often you’re gripped with a fear of evanescence, or the rapid fading from sight or memory of that person. Evanescence comes from the Latin evanescere meaning “disappear, vanish…” The evanescence of a shooting star makes it hard to catch — it’s there one moment and gone the next. Evanescence is a word typically used to describe an event that fades from sight or memory, or sometimes the fleeting quality of worldly success.” – from vocabulary.com


Here, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, intoxicated with the illusion of worldly success, is duped by his own overexuberance, naive trust and foolishly, unrealistically high expectations of self and others.

He believes that he has half a chance at snagging half a Ritz cracker (not just any cracker!) out of a hand of a handsome man held steadily, extended for a long enough time to establish Hope and Faith.

The Golden Ritz prize, studded with diamond salt – Diamond Tears – was earnestly offered…but wasn’t really his to be offered in the first place.

Cruel fate!

So you can see how his wings dramatically arched at the last minute to brake (a poetic flash of a few seconds, as if an ethereal few days) realizing all too late that he was going too fast and would have to forfeit his Ritz dream…

…to allow the bird behind him, the bird who knew all along how to take it slow and steady, drama-free, and keep her focus on the prize. Her wings were never quite so flexible – in fact, she looked rather plain and like any bird – “soap and water,” an observer once said of her image.

Let fools go rushing in! You play with fire, you get burned.

But the plain and ordinary bird who was there all along in the wings (no pun intended) and stuck it through without wavering, would get the Ritz. Those attracted to and distracted by the dramatic, beautiful seagull who once wondered aloud of the ordinary bird, “Who would want her?” would be the same ones lining up behind her in the end.

As usual, Jonathan Livingston Seagull would be relinquished to peck at the fallen crumbs under the balcony…the poetic, creative and physically agile wings were of little practical use in the long run. They looked alluring for a flash, but all shooting stars must dissipate or crash.

Why are some birds destined to play their cards right and win the Ritz, and others are destined to constantly scrape and struggle and get only glimpses of Promised Lands? A hard road for both…

The vocabulary.com entry was only the second thing that popped up. Oh-so-fittingly, the very first thing Uncle Google suggested for this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge word…a band with the same name and message:

But even the diamond salt in bitter tears fades….thank You, God, for glimpses of hope, for tastes of buttery, lucious Ritz crackers to savor, if only for a few crumbs!

Thank You for letting us peek over the hill and into the Promised Land, and thank You for those blessed enough to get there and partake in this lifetime, and for those blessed to imagine and for those blessed to dream.

For assuring us that You don’t lie, You deliver in the end and that even if we miss the Ritz in this flight, how much more savory it will be in the next flight. Alleluia, alleluia!

The ending of Jonathan Livingston Seagull:

“To begin with ” he said heavily, “you’ve got to understand that a seagull is an unlimited idea of freedom, an image of the Great Gull, and your whole body, from wingtip to wingtip, is nothing more than your thought itself.”

No limits, Jonathan? he thought. Well, then, the time’s not distant when I’m going to appear out of thin air on your beach, and show you a thing or two about flying!”

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