The world is a looking glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. Frown at it, and it will in turn look sourly upon you; laugh at it and with it, and it is a jolly kind companion.
-- William Makepeace Thackeray

Aug 22, 2010

Moved by Music

The first overwhelming experience I had with music that moved me to tears, tears I couldn’t stop, try as I might, was when I went to a Powwow in the Netherlands. It was held in a gym, a most unnatural place to hold a powwow! I had never been to one and didn’t even actually know what it was. I sat in anticipation and then all the lights went out except one. Then the dancers came out but it wasn’t until the drums started beating that I felt my belly resonate with the drums and a most unspeakable sorrow was released. I cried and couldn’t stop. I was so thankful it was dark!

the dancers enter
in a flurry of colors
my heart breaks
as the drums beat
the rhythm of old sorrow

Years later I went to a powwow in Oregon and had the same reaction, albeit not so powerful as the first time. I walked away to compose myself, after all, it was broad daylight.

Just recently I went to a concert of ‘The daughters of Africa’ and had the same reaction. This time it was not a feeling of sorrow that was unleashed but one of profound joy and a full awareness of that which unites us.

I have never had this with classical music. I am no lover of classical music and find this a curious phenomenon. It’s not due to the lack of exposure to it. My father loved it, my ex loved it. My significant other sings in a choir that sings oratorios and I dutifully attend the concerts. It’s not that I don’t appreciate it but it just doesn’t move me. During a concert I jealously look at the enraptured faces and wonder what it is that I seem to be missing. When I admit to classical music lovers that it does nothing for me, most of them either look at me with pity or like I come from another planet, which I find rather amusing. If I’m in a particularly rebellious mood I even tell them I like country and folk music.

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