I am on the Cayamo cruise this week. The boat is full of musicians and music fans, all using their ears constantly. I was thinking this morning, after H. and I played a set with three other musical couples and had stopped by Brady Blade’s drum clinic, that most of making music is not about making sound, it’s about not making sound at all and instead, listening as close as possible (in fact, he said that most of drumming is about listening) — to notes, to lyrics, to intonation, and to subtleties. He was calling people up to the stage to play songs with no rehearsal, and in some cases, never having heard the song that was to be performed at all. Musicians are not necessarily known for being the most empathetic creatures away from the stage, but when we play together successfully, it’s just as much about what goes into our ears as it is about what comes out of our mouths or our fingers. I’ve often thought that if musicians employed the skills they use in music in their relationships as well, there’d be a lot less pain and tumult among us, but the rub is that a lot of us seem to often be simultaneously very old and very young spirits — capable of deep sensitivity and incredible soulfulness while creating, but never getting as close to that outside of the arena. Maybe we give up the very best parts of ourselves while we’re inside the art, and once we’re out of it, we’re depleted.
One of the things I’ve worked on since I arrived at what I considered to be middle-age (and I did that probably ten or so years ago — I’m precocious) is making my whole life a work of art. My enneagram type is 1, which means I’m a perfectionist, an improver, a person who sees the flaw in the room, so of course my very lofty goal is that I make each part of my existence flow like water, and to make it appear as if it is all as natural as such. Of course, I never reach such heights, but it has occurred to me lately, especially since the publication of Blood, that one thing I can employ constantly is my ability to hear. I’m starting to realize that my ears are, and always have been, my most valuable asset. Singing, playing, writing, and lo and behold, loving — all start with what goes into me, not what comes out.
Today, I am thankful for my ability to hear — to hear every kind of music, to hear my son’s sweet singing and heavenly sleepy sighs, to hear my husband tell me he loves me, to hear my friends’ joy and sadness, to hear my sister sing and tell me the jokes that only she and I know, to hear the stories of the people who share with me their journeys from trauma to healing (a lot of that in the past three or so months and it has changed me), to hear danger approaching, to hear the wind rustle the leaves on the trees or today, the soft lapping of waves as we sail the ocean. I am in complete awe of the power of the gifts that come with being a human being.
Peace and love and happy Wednesday.
PS — I am also in awe of technology because I posted this from the middle of the Caribbean Sea.