Cherokee Kid

Jim Alberty is a member of the Bird Clan of the Cherokee Tribe of Oklahoma. Born in Claremore, OK he now lives in Maine, working as a composer, writer and Creative for Apple. He is active in the Casco Bay area arts and education communities as a composer, musician, social dancer and actor.

Born Under a Thankful Star


There are times I hate Thanksgiving.

Now that I work retail - let's face it, I'm not a professional, not an academic, not self-employed, I work in a mall for dollars per hour - I sometimes begrudge any moment that takes me away from my piano, anything that keeps me from writing, arranging, orchestrating, organizing or thinking about music.

Like today. I've already been to one friend's house for a charming, simple dinner with parents and Chief the Wonderdog in attendance. But I had to leave off orchestrating a tango in order to do it - and this piece is going really well.

So now I'm taking a few minutes to write this before plunging back into my headphones and the complexities of digitally sample bandoneon notes - all this three precious hours before heading out again for a dinner - then straight to another house for dessert and "chatting".

And tomorrow is Black Friday. My call is 5:30 a.m., we open at 6:00 a.m. and I can't stay up late to write and frankly I also can't wait because when I'm not writing music or dancing I'm immersed in a sea of fascinating humanity in the company of engaging, intelligent colleagues and it's fun.

The whole thing strikes me as a bit of a waste.

You see, Native Americans tend to be thankful for everything around them, all the time, every waking moment.

I grew up aware of the connections that are present amongst everything in reality - people, animals, plants, rocks, computers, bar stools - everything is connected and has some purpose and relationship to me and everything else.

When you are aware like this - and it drives me crazy sometimes (almost catatonic as some of my tango friends can attest) - then everything that happens makes some kind of impression. The parts that make up observed, experienced reality have an almost conscious presence and you acknowledge how they make your life better - or that they're just there so their very presence confirms your sense that you're alive.

I am grateful for the sun in the window, the cool of the breeze, the sound of the waves, the touch of my computer keyboard, the food in my belly, the spots on my screen and the screen wipes I use to clean them off.

There is an almost constant low-level hum of gratitude and awareness that I ignore only at my greatest peril.

The idea that you would take a whole day off just to acknowledge what you have now - not necessarily what you've always had - and follow it with a day dedicated to standing in line to seek and buy things you don't have - well, it seems a little silly to me.

So I will eat pumpkin pie (actually have most of one in my 'fridge now) and turkey with folks I know and care about - and fret about wanting to write while I have the time and energy.

The YouTube link above is to the Fort Duchesne, UT Thanksgiving pow wow - the type of dance is a men's straight dance (a traditional type of form as opposed to a "fancy dance" form where it's more improvised) called a "sneak up" - the movements are taken from a hunter tracking prey.

If I seem cranky today - cranky in general - know that I am very grateful for all the moments I'm given and the people and things that fill them.

It just looks really odd on me.

So now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to work on this milonga so I can then get back to work on the score for "The Golem".

Happy Thanksgiving, blah, blah, blah.......