"We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike." ~Maya Angelou

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Be Still and Know...

 I have learned, through time and experience, that God (who "by any other name would smell as sweet", to quote the Bard) is most accessible through solitude and silence.  My pesky ego so loves center Stage, so needs its voice to be heard and applauded, that it must be regularly escorted from the room and the doors opened in order to receive Consciousness and connection in that open space. It is a space with no words, no questions, not even wonder: I seek to simply BE, in silence. 
    It is a practice, as most everything is (after 10,000 hours we will have mastered the knack of it, as we did the fade-away jump shot). The practice of this connection to consciouness seems counter intuitive to many Americans who have had the mantras of "you can be anything you want to be, if you work hard enough" and "we are Americans, we make our own decisions: don't tell us what to do" drilled into our heads, with all the best of intentions, since we were young. 
      Teachers and parents wanted us to grow up to be self-sufficient and courageous, strong and resilient and creative. The trade off was that we also became extremely driven to to be 'the best' at everything we touched (which no one can ever be).  Competition was encouraged to such a degree that if there was no competition, we didn't try as hard. It wasn't just doing our best that was applauded, it was being better than everyone else. I want to believe that was not the intention of our teachers, but regardless of intent, that was what was internalized.
      I have found the study of music to be a consistently generous endeavor and related to this practice of connection. It reminds me of a set of decorative, nested boxes in which I store my Christmas decorations. As each successive box is opened, something new and marvelous is revealed.  Music has its own language, as do medicine, mechanics, and math.  The language itself is quite easy to learn and then it can be used to scribe or describe sounds, emotions, beliefs, visions even, historical events, in such a way that anyone who understands the basic language, anywhere in the world, can recreate those same, or similar, experiences and emotions.
     But music is more than that. Creating and performing music is, not always but usually and most powerfully, a cooperative versus a competitive experience. Each player, or performer, executes his small or large part of the whole to the best of her ability and the whole which is created, takes on an identity of its own, a power of its own, that can shake both the audience and the performers alike. Music has the ability to break down our inner walls and touch those deepest parts of ourselves, where we are most vulnerable and, indeed, our truest selves. It is in those deepest parts where we also make connection with the greater consciousness.
    It is my belief that music itself originates from that greater consciousness, and is present in all the world in various forms which speak to our several senses.  When we are talented enough to pin it down onto a piece of paper or some other medium and pass it around for others to enjoy, we are joining in the original and ongoing dance of creation; grasping a passing streamer and following it to its source. If we have regularly taken the time and given space to connecting with that greater consciousness which sparked the universe, imagine how much richer and more powerful our own creations will then become. Practice your scales, your steps, your formulas, your techniques and practice also setting them aside and dwelling in the quietness at the center, for that is where the energy is, in-between everything else.
    Call it prayer, but ask for nothing. Call it meditation, but lay the beads and the mantras aside. Expect nothing more than to sit in the presence of a greater awareness than your own; and perchance you will become woven into it and recognize it at last as something you have always known, or suspected, was there.

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