I owe John and Johann a great debt—Coltrane and Bach, that is. Without A Love Supreme playing while I drove home from the Indian Consulate and The Cello Suites to play on the piano when I got home, I’m sure I would have done something I would have regretted. Almost three hours at the Consulate filling out the Visa form that I had already filled out online three times at home and lost and now would fill out three more times online and lose and at the end have the person tell me the numbers I saved to retrieve it didn’t match and I’d have to fill out again, I profoundly understood the temptation to go postal. Thankfully, I had John and Johann and don’t belong to the NRA. I hate to think what might have happened.
Because the fact is that this mounting frustration of things that weren’t working and no one there to help or take responsibility or fix it, just tell me “it works for everyone else,” really was a real-life trauma, the stress and tension palpably mounting in my muscles and nerves, all dressed up to explode with nowhere to go. When I got in my car in the parking lot, I did a Primal Scream that could have sparked a revival of that 60’s Therapy and it helped a little. At least better than punching someone in the face or banging my head against the wall or speeding in my car until I crashed. But I needed an outlet and I needed it fast.
So after Coltrane in the car, I played a one-chord blues on the piano for some 30 minutes, all in the lower register. Then feeling like life below middle C was what was needed at the moment, delved into the Cello Suites and got both release and redemption. Then I was ready to cross the line and let a little sunlight above middle C shine in.
Meanwhile, looks like I’ll either cancel my teaching in India or they’ll pick up the ball and do that work for me. No way am I stepping foot in that world ever again, if I can help it. As for anger, it is simply an energy that can be used to heal or harm and I feel blessed that I occasionally have the good sense and a lifetime’s practice to channel it into something that can transform stress to a purer energy useful in artistic expression. So could Coltrane and so could Bach. And so can you. It’s an important topic in a world with easy access to assault weapons and the capacity to tweet your lowest self far and wide. Plenty to be mad about and the stress is mounting. What to do with that energy?
I recommend the octaves below middle C.