And by that I mean, have you ever experienced music? Truly felt it, let it in and let it move you?
My first time was at a Festival in Costa Rica and I was 29. It’s not as though I had been sheltered all my life from music, rather to the contrary, I’ve seen many Operas, attended symphonies and concerts, played a musical instrument in high school, grooved out in the privacy of my own home and head with ear phones on and the volume up. I consider myself to be an amateur really. Yet somehow, before that day, almost a year ago to the day, I was none the wiser about the depth that music holds.
You could have told me about listening to music and feeling music, and that was all alright, I would have agreed and said “yeah yeah, I’ve heard music, I love music”. But that night, I not only heard and felt music, I experienced it in all its depth and richness. It’s rhythm, it’s texture, the form and life it takes on while the notes are in the air, the feelings that it stirs up inside our souls and that speaks to us in ways we don’t comprehend that we can only feel, and if we dare, we can decide to run with that feeling and we can let it ride out, and we can feel it all around us, envelop us, push us to the brink, and we can even let it unravel us if we are so brave. We can let the notes hit the heart strings we keep behind walls, we can let the music go to the places we can not go alone, perhaps where it aches, and we can release, we can rejoice, we can let it move us in ways we have forgotten or have never known. We can dance with it, we can sit with it, we can let our imaginations run wild with it. That is when we experience music, and that night, that is exactly what it did with me, to me and for me.
The festival I attended that cracked me wide open to the world of music was Envision, an annual music, arts & movement gathering and I happened to walk in on a live jam session of Quixotic. It was an impromptu performance, I do believe, as I happened to find them jamming as I sought repose away from the centre of the action. It was in the Tea Lounge I found solace, and it was as if I had found a secret VIP performance for a select few, when truly it was for anyone who had simply wandered off from the action to rest awhile, even if for just a short time.
As I came around the side of the tent and peered in to see if there was space to sit, I spotted a friend, a painter, sitting almost center stage, eyes closed, enjoying the live performance. As I walked over and settled down, (I always seem to make quite an entrance, and this time was no different) I urged my own self to settle in as quickly as possible as not to disturb those scattered around, and at that very moment I felt hugely self aware, how awkward my movements were and how I clumsily went about making my little nest where I was about to settle into.
The truth is I had to settle down, not only in that moment but it was reflection of my life. I had to find tranquility, I needed a bit of a break. I knew this and it took me a few moments to find this place of quiet. And then, when it all settled and no thought entered my mind, I felt calm and no words were required (as a writer that is so hard to imagine!) and there were no thoughts, there was only sound. I am so thankful I was able to make it to that place of tranquility, as it did require work to get there, but what awaited was fabulous! I call it “Fantasia”, just like the animation in the Disney movie, but created by my mind. I was swept away by my own imagination and it took me on a carpet ride. When I closed my eyes the imagery just came. It was shapes and animals morphing into one another to the sound of the music. It was not subtle, it was colourful and playful and moved in every which way at the command of the notes that tamed it. I got scared as I went deeper, I pulled back, my eyes sprung open, and I gasped. So much was my reaction that my friend opened his eyes looked at me and when I touched him to reassure him, I asked: is that what you see when you paint? And it’s as if he knew exactly what I was talking about, he grinned and nodded, and closed his eyes once more, as he did I settled back into the space as well and this time prepared to go deeper into myself to see what else was inside. I was excited!
I enjoyed the music so very much, I was on a high vibration and so when the violin stepped in, it was so unexpected that I could not help but come undone. It was a solitary sound against the silence of the crisp night’s air. The note stood alone, almost withered, at the end of its rope but with hope yet remaining. It was a sad sound and the first tear swelled up along the ridge of my eyes and I could no longer hold back, what had been building up, for who knows how long, poured out. In that moment I surrendered to the music, I cried and I let myself go, I let myself be sad, I allowed myself to sit with that note, and it was glorious. I was left breathless and astounded by all the realizations that came rushing in wit the music. The violin represented for me, a point in our lives where sometimes we find ourselves alone, perhaps surrounded by noise, but still alone and still standing, with hope. And as the violin continued, the pain in the note lifted and the other instruments joined him, representing our friends who hold us in those moments of solitude.
When they finished, my eyes opened and the violinist who had joined in the jam stepped off the stage and came up to me. I thanked him and he thanked me. I had no words to describe what had happened, all I could do was let the tears that rolled down my face be a sign that the music touched me, profoundly.
And so it’s taken me a year to write this article, as I have had to process it and recount the story many times to get a clear understanding of what it was that happened to me that night. And without a doubt when I speak of this, those who have experienced music get goosebumps and I am thrilled to hear their stories. I am filled with gratitude as are they for all music has done for them.
And so, on the first day of the fourth year of the Envision Festival, I find myself excitedly wondering what this year’s festival will bring…
TCRN is a sponsor for Envision Festival 2015. Make sure to follow our Facebook page to catch all the inside action and updates.
(Photo courtesy of Zipporah Envision Gallery)