This was to be a blog with no words.
Merril D Smith’s blog on Monday, Still Life, got me started. She opened with this quote:
“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”
And she offered a link for more information. (For information on this quote. Go here. )
Taking my cue from her, my post for today originally began this way:
I have few words this week. I have no opinions, no theories, no stories worth telling at the moment.
I am on overload with people’s explanations of why these tragedies happened, with politician’s talk of what we must do, and with the news media’s unquenchable need to fill the air waves with sensationalist chatter 24 hours a day and their insistance that there is only one way to look at most things.
My sentiments have not changed. It’s just that, in the process of selecting the music, I found words.
I love the idea of taking refuge in music. And what better choice, I thought, than Leonard Bernstein conducting anything! (Maybe George Szell, but I digress).
Unfortunately, the video clips I listened to were either of poor quality or too long.
So, I broadened my search and settled on either Panis Angelicus or Fur Elise. Listening to multiple renditions, I came across this one.
Pianist Valentina Lisitzsa, playing Beethoven’s classic, Fur Elise. (Four minutes)
Her interpretation grabbed me and held me tight. Her touch was so light, her pacing so smooth, so right on. I was mesmerized and knew I’d found the clip I wanted for today’s blog.
Hang with me here. This really does get to a point.
But who was she?
I’d never heard of her before. So, I Googled her. Please keep in mind, it’s now about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday morning. I usually have these written by Sunday afternoon — the week before.
I’m embarrassed to say, my initial instinct was to delete her. She represented much of what I disdain and I wanted nothing to do with her. Have you ever done that? Just pushed an idea (or a person) away because it threathened your sense of who you were?
I feared including her would somehow align me politically with her (imo, quite distorted) views. I feared if I gave her a voice, that voice would just get louder. I feared her voice might eventually convince me. I feared.
But her rendition of Fur Elise was just so beautiful. I listened to it again.
What to do?
My quandry, I thought, has something to teach us about what’s going on here in the U.S.
In the aftermath of the tragedy in Paris last week, attention has been newly focused on the Syrian refuge issue. I recall, in the initial hours of the tragedy still unfolding, Wolf Blitzer on CNN first offered the suggestion connecting the hordes of Syrian refugees to the carnage. It wasn’t even over and yet there he went, offering a suppostion. I was infuriated.
Then, today came the swarm (literally) of State Governor press releases announcing unequivocally, “We want nothing to do with them. Keep them out.”
I believed their reponse is based in fear. As was mine toward Valentina.
xenophobia /ˌzɛnəˈfəʊbɪə/ noun
hatred or fear of foreigners or strangers or of their politics or culture
And the words began to come.
Fear is often a motivator. What do we do with it? When is it wise to let it drive us? And when are we better advised to set it aside and “do it anyway.”
How do we recognize fear? How do we know THAT’s what we’re feeling?
How do we “own” it (e.g., It’s my fear; you didn’t give it to me). What does our fear say about us?
And, How do we honor it? How do we come to a place where we make the right decision? How do we live with it?
Too often, certainly with fear, our first instinct is to react, to push it away. Some may lash out in anger or hatred, some may run. Some may feel paralyzed and freeze. Fight, flight, or freeze.
So, last night and on into this morning, I sat with this fear of mine, this strong desire to just delete this woman from my blog. To push her as far away from me as I possibly could.
There was a time in my life when pushing her away would have been the right choice. There were years when I didn’t have the energy or the strength to negotiate maintaining my own sense of self in the presence of anyone so very different. I was a chameleon and took on the colors — the values — of those around me.
Those days are, gratefully, behind me (usually). I no longer worry that I’ll lose myself if I deal with someone very different from me. In fact, my ability to do this has opened my world in a delightful way.
But back to the point.
I’m newly aware, thanks to trying to write a post here, that fear needs to be acknowledged, owned, and dealt with. Sometimes we need to flee. Or fight back. The sourse is important. Brown bears come to mind. Pending tsunamis too. War weary refugees do not.
Sometimes we need to sit (or stand) still. We need to take a breath. Perhaps get more information.
Perhaps listen to music.
Perhaps just open our hearts and learn to trust.