Song of the Green Light


In John Steinbeck’s little classic, “The Pearl”, we meet Kino, a diver of pearls, Juana, his wife,  and Coyotito, their son. The story is about what happens to this little family when Kino finds the Pearl of the World. One aspect I found interesting about this story is how music wove its way into Kino’s daily activities.

Kino heard the little splash of morning waves on the beach. It was very
good- Kino closed his eyes again to listen to his music. Perhaps he
alone did this and perhaps all of his people did it. His people had
once been great makers of songs so that everything they saw or thought
or did or heard became a song. That was very long ago. The songs
remained; Kino knew them, but no new songs were added. That does not
mean that there were no personal songs. In Kino’s head there was a song
now, clear and soft, and if he had been able to speak of it, he would
have called it the Song of the Family. 

There were other songs in Kino’s story: the Song of Evil when little Coyotito was stung by a scorpion and the Song of the Enemy when the racist doctor only served them when he found out about the Pearl. Then there was the Song of the Pearl That Might Be which became the Song of the Pearl That Was, which, unfortunately, did not end well. Everyone should read this little classic and realize that racism is not confined to our time, nor our borders, nor our people.

On a lighter note…there’s a street in San Francisco called Geary Boulevard. My grandmother lived off Geary and I lived, for a couple years, on 39th & Anza which is a short jaunt from Geary. Gordo’s is on Geary and that’s the main reason I still go there often.  I remember taking the 38X downtown in those days, and was amazed how fast I could get to work from the outskirts of the City. Especially when you hit every green light.For awhile earlier this year, my daughter worked downtown at the crack of dawn, and on Sundays, I’d drive her to work. I’d take Geary home. The street was deserted and all you could see was a long line of green lights like soldiers standing at attention. I tried hard to get them all, but, alas, I wasn’t able to.

Like Kino, there are days when all of the tasks I have to do seem to skip to their own beat. Those days when things go as planned, the kids find their shoes, we get out of the door on time, my favorite songs come on the radio and, finally, we hit all the green lights are the days I enjoy the Song of the Green Light. We all have those days. And when you experience its melodies, for the present, all seems right in your world. I am very grateful. It’s easy to be grateful singing the Song of the Green Light.

Learning to be grateful when the Song of the Yellow Light or the Song of the Red Light is playing is more daunting, but doable nonetheless. But my point, today, is to enjoy those serendipitous moments when the melody of your day is sweet and peaceful. Tasks and relationships flow like a well choreographed dance. We know it doesn’t last, but we can drink it up while it’s playing.

I’m not the only one who feels this way. Our old friend, Kawika, penned it nicely in a recent Facebook post:

If your end-of-day story goes something like, grabbed a burger for dinner, caught a couple jigglypuffs and caught all the green lights going home, you living the dream kid.


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