Monday, December 26, 2011

Reverb11 - Day 26 - Gifts and music

#1 Prompt: Gift: Name one gift that 2011 gave you; what treasure came your way gift wrapped in experience, that (maybe in hindsight) you want to hold onto and place on display?

#2 Prompt: Music is powerful - Think of one song that you turn to time and again, and describe why it's important to you.

#1 -- I've already told you about reading Mary Oliver's poem "The Journey" late one dark and stormy night, and having its message hit me squarely in the head -- and in the heart. That's the gift I most treasure about 2011, the clear message that mine is the only life I can save. 

It's a gift that has two sides, however. It exempts me from the responsibility that I've tried so hard to assume of trying desperately to save my child , especially these last three+ years, because it is an impossible task. But it also frees me to look at what is left of my life and decide how I want to spend it without feeling guilty or responsible for the outcome of other people's choices -- hers or anybody else's.

(I suppose a more enlightened person would have figured all this out years ago, right?) While I understood intellectually that I am 'powerless over people, places and things,'  I still felt that somehow, if I worked hard at controlling her choices and monitoring her treatment and recovery, I could 'save' my child from a road she'd set out on through a combination of a few bad things happening to her, genetic predisposition, and some bad life choices.

The poem gobsmacked me upside the head, however, and since that amazing 'aha' moment, I have been able to let go of that need to control, and to allow her to travel whatever path she will. That doesn't mean I am not involved, but I finally accept that her life is not my responsibility, and I have been able to set boundaries for myself.

#2 -- Music. Indeed, it is powerful, evoking sadness, joy, beauty, power -- but I'll confess that I don't have a song that I turn to in crisis moments anymore.

 I often choose something classical -- I love the Saint Saens "Organ Symphony" (Symphony #3 in C Minor) with a really powerful pipe organ, for instance, and I also love parts of "The Planets" by Gustav Holst, especially the center section of "Jupiter" which was adapted as a hymn tune and is the melody to "I Vow to Thee, My Country," a very popular English hymn. I love that melody and can just get lost in the cello's voice as it sings. It is melancholy and sad and soaringly positive at the same time.

But there are times when I want the familiarity of the Grateful Dead -- the unique blend of drum, guitar, mandolin, bass, and raspy vocals that let me lose the moment and go back in time. I'm especially fond of "Terrapin Station," with the image of the 'spiral light of Venus rising first and shining best' and its 'rare and different tune.' But I also love other Robert Hunter lyrics with all his images of dark and light. One of them always speaks to where I find myself when I'm listening.

And then there is the high choral music that I love to listen to and used to love to sing:  from John Rutter arrangements and originals to Thomas Tallis and his 16th century anthems. Most choirs I sang with had a message somewhere in the choir room to the effect that 'He who sings prays twice,' and I found that to be so.

These choices are nothing new: they've been with me for many years now. Most new music -- at least that I've heard --  doesn't seem to have the profound messages of these (moldy oldie?) choices of mine.

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