I received a nice postcard from a woman who attends church at Grace yesterday. She has always been very complimentary of me. Her compliments seem to speak from a place of pain and consolation. So many compliments a sort of bouquet of weird tribute resonant with distancing and misunderstanding. But I think it is important to take compliments well. This is not easy but is something you learn to do. Anything else is ungracious to say the least.
We live in such a weird time of consumerism where everything is at some point reduced to a commodity. It’s difficult to break out of this mindset. But it’s probably necessary to be human.
My admiring friend used words like “grateful,” “joy,” and “hopeful.” I know that she is someone who doesn’t often miss beauty or substitute something for it. She put me in mind of Christopher Small and his ideas about music being a verb and also the result of many hands and minds.
These hands and minds of Small are not just the immediate participants, including the listener, but the hands of the people who set up the chairs, the minds of the people who make up the community where the music happens. I logically extend this to include every human who has lived and made music. And even all humans who ever will live and make music.
So someone like my postcard writer is intrinsic to music in a way that is difficult pinpoint in a society much defined by economics and consuming.
She didn’t put a return address on her postcard. I’m hoping I can run her address down and drop her a note in response. I’m sure to include Christopher Small’s ideas in my appreciation of her reaching out to remind me how important music is to all of us.
I sometimes say that music is constituent to being human. Unfortunately, my OED tells me my use of this word is obsolete. That which “constitutes or makes a thing what it is; formative, essential; characteristic, distinctive” is not longer the meaning of this word. Oh well.
I would like to add that honesty itself is also something I have been thinking about. In this discussion, I think that to me perceived honesty or authenticity is important. This importance extends to the music that draws me in and that I end up liking or making. It even includes loving. Honesty is something I aspire to and admire when I find it operational in others.
I think the absence of honesty is something we live with on a daily basis. It doesn’t do us any good. Although it’s not always easy, honesty is definitely something worth striving for.
End of sermon.