An Old Russian proverb says: “Tell me who’s your friend and I’ll tell you who you are.” We pick our friends according to our personalities and our world view. The reverse is also true – our friends tend to shape our personalities and our view of the world around us. Do you want an objective understanding of the harmony and disharmony within yourself? All you have to do is to look at those you want (and don’t want) to be with and then ask why you feel harmony (or disharmony!) in their company. Sometimes in order to grow, you need to seek the company of those who may make you feel uncomfortable. However, it is not just our friends, but also other elements that measure and bring harmony into our lives. This article is devoted to one thing that, in my humble opinion, is the most powerful agent to usher harmony into one’s life, namely – music. Rephrasing that Russian saying, “Tell me what music you listen to, and I’ll tell you who you are.”
Music is the harmony of creation distilled into sound. The harmony in any other form (a beautiful building, a delicious meal) is somewhat hidden beneath its practical application: you can live in an ugly house just as easily as in a beautiful one; a tasteless meal satisfies hunger no differently than a delicious one. Only music has no real practical value, except for the harmony it radiates. Until you are able to sense the concentrated, distilled harmony within music, you will most likely miss diluted incarnations of the harmony within other creations around you. By the same token, learning to appreciate the complex harmonies of music will lead to discerning the complex and hidden harmonies in every avenue of life. Thus, growing your music taste from a three-chord jingle to a complex fugue may help you to grow from a primitive sex drive to the complex heights of True Love. Learning to appreciate the development of a musical piece from dissonant overture to triumphant finale enhances the ability (and patience!) to see the triumphs of tomorrow hidden behind the difficulties of today.
To continue this analogy, we all participate in the performance of the Symphony Orchestra of Life, in which we are both performer and audience. We are born sensing a foretaste of our potential to create a wonderful melody, but the transformation, metanoia of our musical skills takes time and discipline. We start playing, but miss the beat, play out of tune, hit the wrong notes, overpower someone else’s part, or, most often, give up playing altogether, thinking we do not have any talent! When an orchestra of thirty musicians plays like this, it sounds just unpleasant. When several billions of us play this way, it sounds deafening and terrible. Well, welcome to our world! We spend most of our lives blaming the “musicians” around us or The Conductor (whoever that may be!). We try out different instruments, parts, and tunes in an effort to bring harmony to our lives and find that wonderful melody we were born to create. Unfortunately, the final curtain usually falls too soon. The sound of our music is silenced before we know it, leaving our ears reverberating with a meaningless cacophony instead of a triumphant and powerful last chord.
But, it doesn’t have to be this way. In our world where reality and music reflect one another like two mirrors, we were born to sing our lives like a song. The Conductor is much more talented at bringing disparate tunes together than we ever give Him credit for. The Symphony of Life is such that when we “turn the wheel, light the flame” and finally find the harmony within OUR assigned part, it turns what seems to be the dissonance around us into a harmony, and suddenly a glorious masterpiece emerges! This newly found harmony resounds even more powerfully because of the contrast with the cacophony it replaces. Our peaks and valleys, our ups and downs, even the preceding cacophony become part of the masterpiece, of the work of art that is incredibly satisfying to listen to, despite the difficulty of performing it.
So, it is my fervent hope that you will open your heart to symphonies of Beethoven and fugues of Bach, to the complexity of Charles Mingus’ jazz and the meditation of Pink Floyd’s rock; if our bodies are what we eat, then our hearts and souls become that to which we listen. And each turn of our existence leaves the only trace worth noticing: the Harmony of the Music of Life created by all of us.