Saturday, May 30, 2020

Simmering on the Stove

           "We are more closely connected to the invisible than to the visible." -Novalis

Again, my perhaps unfounded faith in a world that has purpose, meaning, shape, design, invisible forces present and willing to reveal it all to those who pay attention, comes from things like this: Last night, I awoke from a dream that reminded me of the exact activity I needed to complete my online workshop today and tie all the threads together. I was fine with my workshop plan and didn’t even know that I needed more, but the world that speaks in dreams and daydream and signals from the surrounding world was telling me otherwise. 

And that’s what makes my life feel so rich, that sense of multiple projects going on that are incubating below the surface, multiple pots simmering on the stove and the ding of timers that tell me which one to look in to see if the soup is done. All of it  beyond any conscious control, schedule or prediction. It talks to me in my dreams and I awake knowing just what is needed. Again, not only in the dreams of sleep, but in the words that pop into my head to give a blogpost title and then invite me to sit down and write it out. 

And interesting that for me, these messages from beyond/below/around, are almost always words or ideas rather than tones and rhythms. I’ve long suspected that I’m not truly a musician, which is a bit odd since I’ve made music my entire life, worked at improving technical skills, theoretical understanding, expressive potential and built an entire career around teaching music! Actually, I think that’s one of my powerful allies in teaching music, knowing how to communicate effective music-making to those who are not one of the elect few who hears and perceives and speaks the world through musical tones. I’ve been around those people, who are always singing to themselves and drumming on their legs and hearing things inside that they bring outside in their jazz solos or composed pieces. Wagner famously said that he composed music like a cow gives milk and Mozart was famous for feeling he was merely taking dictation for the music running through his head. Such people often make impatient music teachers, because they can’t understand that others don’t hear those same things inside. Like me. But there’s still a place for them at the banquet table of music.

It doesn’t matter what’s running through your head—for some, mathematical equations, some images, some dance choreographies and so on. Of course, we should pay attention to the particular nature of those rivers running through us to decide which to follow, to understand which of our multiple intelligences have found their home in us and request our presence and our work to bring them forward. What matters is to listen to them, to trust them, to commit to bringing them out into the physical world. And may I add, only if they bring something useful, beautiful, connective to the world. I suspect mass murderers and such also hear voices, but I do NOT recommend that they follow them!

Alongside the certainty that there are invisible angels guiding one’s purpose (as my recent dream confirmed), there is also the affirmation of serendipity, things that seem to randomly appear just at the right moment to give yet more weight to the feeling that the world, in spite of the chaos around us, makes sense. While I was organizing these thoughts around the “simmering on the stove” image, that sense of the underground coming above ground, an 8th grader turned in a poem for an assignment. She was doing a report on Miles Davis and in addition to telling his biography, had to react to his music in some kind of project form. She chose to write a poem while listening to Blue in Green and note how it relates to these thoughts above. 

                  I drift beneath the surface
                    Slowly getting deeper and deeper,
                  Colder and colder and then,
                 Suddenly being pulled up by reality.

                       I can taste the music.
                     My heart hums along to the rhythm.
                    My mind sings the harmony
                   And my soul does a dance.

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