Sunday, October 17, 2010

What Happens When I Listen to Beethoven's Ninth

Is unhappiness a human condition or simply a creation of perception, a foil to help us appreciate communion? Or is it a tool to help us recognize beauty and joy, allowing us to appreciate them through contrast, for even in the desolation of the desert there is splendor, magnificence patiently waiting for moisture and life beneath the shifting, impermanent land, and arid rocks. These are the secrets of the elements. Water, earth, fire, combine to create and destroy. Cosmically balanced in infinite ways. Endless marriages of these forces become myriad potentials. Some leave the paucity of physical limits and become intangible, immeasurable like air, spirit, and consciousness, existing in the space between science and belief, between physical and emotional, between proton and electron, the inexplicable essence of Being.

I search for a truth I can embrace, a wholehearted surrender to faith. I envy those who find comfort in biblical parable and rule. For me it has ever been a fiction, corrupted by the very hand and mind behind the written Word. I have always felt it was extreme hubris to try to know the will of God in whatever form or forms chosen, perceived, or accepted and yet, I long for the peace that others find there. Simplicity of belief is the source of my envy. Religion does not comfort me. It does not offer any answers my mind accepts, only begs for proof that cannot, by the nature of faith be found. Is there a higher purpose in my discontent? Is it possibly universal? Is it some cosmic joke? Are we not alone?

Do we, as humans set ourselves apart or are set apart, for wanting answers to the question of Why? Without access to the inner secrets of any other creature we will never have a satisfactory reply. Do plants and animals feel and think? Is this a purely human condition? Do the inarticulate and inanimate have gods? We developed religion and science to find out, but we are no closer to the truths we seek, only more questions. Perhaps this adversity is the meaning we all seek. The constant friction of enigma and solution motivate us. We have created a universe in our own reflection, molding it physically and perceptively for comfort.

If that is true, is not pain a figment of our own creation? Are hurt and anger narcissistic constructs which allow us to perceive happiness and peace. Agony defines our triumphs, is the cost of achievement, the price of reaching magnificence. It is here, in this synchronicity of pleasure and pain, where peace and epiphany are found. Pain gives realization meaning. Jesus became more divine through sacrifice, torture, and death. Can’t we all? Isn’t everything’s worth measured by the price paid?

Consider Beethoven, for me the embodiment of talent and despair. By all accounts a taciturn, angry man. He alienated his family, used acquaintances selfishly, was demanding and tyrannical. And yet. When you scratch the surface the paradox emerges.
Music defined his being, but he couldn’t hear it. The rage of his father stole the sense needed most for his chosen passion. Frustration at the loss defined the man and his relationships. This man, who could not hear, who could not bear happiness, created out of his own silence, the music of joy- a redemption of pain coalesced into symphonies that are both felt and heard.

This what I desire, to put to words the music I feel. To create, from pain and learning, something of peace, an ode to joy and perhaps some kind of salvation.

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