Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Songs . . . and Other Beautiful Things

I've been listening, over and over . . . and over to songs that . . . what is it that they do? They . . . I don't know . . . they keep me in a constant flux between joy and sorrow. No. Not sorrow. That's not right. But, they do make me feel like I have tendon-like chords running up and down all along the full length of my rib cage – like some tight, thick harp strings – and that someone is reaching in, grabbing onto them and pulling with all of their might.

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It would have sounded prettier, perhaps, to have just relied on the already-safely-tested metaphor of “heart strings”, but it feels like this straining runs across my entire chest . . . and my heart, biologically speaking, wasn't quite big enough to explain properly how much pulling seems to be going on inside of me – how much of me is being pulled.

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I’m sure plenty of it is caused by the way the music rises and falls, the way it swells, whispers, or suddenly grows loud. And, I know nostalgia has more than it’s fair sway in what is going on here.

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But listening to these songs seems to fill me with some longing that I don’t have the words for; and I find myself more keenly aware of the contrast between beauty and goodness and light; . . . and this fallen, tangled and messy world.

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I’m so glad it’s here: so glad there are glorious things, and innocent and pure things here. . . . But I feel somehow pained that they must exist amidst difficulty and darkness. It is that same feeling I’ve often had before that I can only really describe as “homesickness”. I love the complete familiarity of the beautiful here – in songs, and words, . . . and people. But . . . oh how I want to keep the darkness far far separate from ever touching those things.

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Still. As I said, I love that those spots of perfect brightness do exist – do shine out their brightness amidst all the struggle of mortality. I feel myself gathering those things into my soul – holding them fiercely – wanting to keep, and remember, and stop anything from dimming.

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(Speaking of beautiful: the fact that this song has showed up on my Facebook feed roughly one-hundred-billion times the past few days, has done nothing to overdo it’s loveliness for me. It’s so pretty. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELjgFKACcdQ – When you listen to it, do you feel a little bit of what I have so falteringly tried to get down here?)

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7 comments:

Linn said...

I adore you.

Beautify Pacify said...

Nicely written and heartfelt. I do feel the same when listening to some types of music, and I do feel this pull sometimes between the beauty and peace of very special places,feelings and people, and the darkness and uncertainty of this world. Your words are beautiful.

Nancy said...

Linn. You're the best.

Val, thank you so much! I know you are busy working and taking care of your family, but I miss your own beautiful words!

Marilyn said...

Oh, I do recognize this feeling. There have been periods of time where I lie awake at night with an actual pain in my chest that's made of worry and aching for all the future bad things that will inevitably happen to the people I love. Giving myself a stern talking-to about "sufficient unto the day…" doesn't help, at those times. And I don't know what it is that makes that fear and feeling of "why is it all so hard" and "why is there so much darkness" etc etc--what it is that finally makes that go away. Maybe just, being busy? And being distracted by the everyday and the good things and the small annoying things…and those huge, looming, dreadful things sort of recede. I would like to think my faith chases them away, but I'm afraid it's not even always that, it's just…life. And (finally getting back to your point)--music often draws the things out again. It's so strange, how it can draw out the hope and the joy, and by the very contrast, remind us of the sorrow. I had a music prof. in college who said he thought music was a real language (like, used for direct communication) in heaven. He played this little group of notes on the piano, and we all laughed. He said, "WHY did you laugh?" We said, "well…it was funny!" It just was. And he said, maybe when we know music better, communicating such things is as easy as that! And maybe that's why I can be so resentful when music is overtly manipulative. It's like, you're going to use this great power to pull out some tears but the actual sentiments expressed are shallow? I hate that that's even possible!

And conversely, the really wonderful music makes you uplifted emotionally in this indescribable way. It gives you the idea of "things will all be okay" or "there is so much to look forward to in the world!" without there being any tangible reason to feel those things. I want to know how it all works! It is really just…combinations of tones…doing that to us? Or is there some memory of a real premortal language?

Nancy said...

Marilyn -- Yes, that's exactly what I was trying to put into words. That idea that sometimes beautiful reminds me that the opposite of that exists. I feel the same way when I look at my newborns. They are just so pure and so good and so innocent, that I can hardly bear to think of all of the sorrow and evil that exists around them. That's not to say I am not so happy and grateful that such beautiful and glorious things are here!

Also, your professor's comment reminded me of this little experience that I recorded on my blog once when trying to express my struggles to find the right words for things I want to express. (I'll copy and paste part of it here):

Once, when I was only in middle school, I had a strange dream/experience. I had fallen asleep on my parents’ bed. I was not really dreaming exactly. I wasn’t seeing anything, but I was hearing something: I was hearing the most beautiful soul wrenching music in all of the world. I don’t remember how it sounded. I only know that when I think of it, I get that same feeling I talked about earlier – like something big is pressing on the insides of me. Only, I began to wake up, and, as I did, the music started to deteriorate a little and change quality a little – bit by bit – until, at last, my eyes were open and I realized that all I was hearing was the wind blowing loud and strong outside my parents’ bedroom windows. I stayed still for a long while – listening to that wind – willing it to turn back into the music. It didn’t of course, but something about that experience has always stayed tucked inside me – has always made me wonder what incredible things we may have heard before coming here, or may yet have to hear when we leave this place. It makes me excited and makes me hope that, eventually, I won’t be limited in what I want to convey and express by the abilities I still lack or even by words and means and tools we currently have to work with. Until then, I will keep plunking along here and there trying to get down the things I can.

Whitney @ Southern Hope said...

This past Sunday during the Christmas program, I looked around at all the families I have grown to love in our ward and got so choked up. I looked at my son and all the future friendships he will have with others and was so overcome with the Christmas spirit and Christlike love. Love these thoughts!

Nancy said...

Whitney -- thanks for commenting! I loved that! I love how much it is people and relationships -- and the individuals Heavenly Father has surrounded us with here in mortality -- that often make us feel those closest connections with the spirit! That alone is such a beautiful gift. Love that you've found it in your little neck of the woods! Also, I peaked over at your blog and have to say I think it is pretty AWESOME that your husband up and made a knife! What the? So cool!

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