Thanksgiving at my sister’s in Sebastopol included a walk down Florence Ave. marveling at these whimsical metal sculptures in people’s front yard. I started snapping photos (do photos “snap” on an i-Phone?) and for some reason, started taking close-ups of the art work. To my eye, these were much more interesting and engaging. Which captures your attention more, the first photo or the second?
So last night at the Magnificat Choral Concert, we were seated far back in the church (cheaper price) and I felt so disengaged. The sound was far away, the people were far away, I sorely missed the sense of participation that being up close creates. After intermission, we snuck up closer and it made all the difference in the world.
I’ve felt this before, the difference between seeing a jazz musician in a jazz club and in a symphony hall. I also feel it in my workshops, the change between 150 people in a circle and 20 or 30. And even in my daily classes, the kids sitting on the risers is different from all of us down on the floor in a circle or a clump.
In short, intimacy matters. We are made more for participating in life close-up than observing it from far away. Proximity yields different feelings than distance, emotionally, aesthetically, humanistically. We are the new-age Romans, more prone to big spectacle—the Super-bowl football game, the rock concert, the Oscars awards—than the playground pick-up game, the chamber-music concert or jazz in the club, the awards dinner at the small restaurant. Well, they all have their place, but at the end of the day, I know which one I prefer.