Monday, September 05, 2005

The music of his life.

Just now as I was cleaning and cooking and doing all the necessary things while Mozart and Chopin kept me company, I had a thought.

Every time I listen to them, Mozart, Chopin, Brahms, Rachmaninoff... I am moved. Elevated to a place that amazes me. I never feel the same way about a piece of music twice, other than to know I like it. Each time gives me something new and each time leaves me feeling as if I know something about the world I didn't know before.

I think my husband experiences music in the same way. One of the many things I love about him.

My thought was this: every single note in every beautiful piece of music represents an emotion the composer felt about themselves and about someone else. Good, bad, hurt, anger, sorrow, shame, pity, longing. It's all there. The music tells the story. Many times it begins one way and I can feel the long ago joy and then a change, and I feel the pain.

In 2005, I can sit in my home and listen to the world of Mozart, a man who died in 1791. Until a few minutes ago, I've always felt a kind of quiet pain when I listen to Mozart for many reasons, not the least of which is because I know that hundreds of years after I am gone, I won't leave that kind of mark on the universe. Hundreds of years from now, no one will even know I existed. His music has a way of making me feel insignificant at times.

I've never given a lot of thought to the people who surrounded the man. We've all read the stories of his overbearing father and those of us who are curious can read about many of the other people in his life. Constanze, Sophie and Magdelana are names you'll know if you've done that. But there had to be many more. Friends, relatives, casual acquaintances were all characters who shaped the man.

What if each one was a note? What if everything they did and said and caused in his life was a note? I can't know them now, but I can feel what he felt about them. Without them, without the pain, without the joy, there would be no music. They were the notes of his life and while most of us can't compose the people in our own life that way, nonetheless they still create our music.

I was a note in my friend's life. No matter how many years have passed, no matter how much I wish I had done more, the fact remains that I am still a note that helped to create the music of his life. Perhaps at one time the notes were dark and painful or angry and full of passion. At other times they were light and joyful and filled with hope. But they were there. I was there. I mattered.

Likewise, he is a note in my life. Many, many notes in fact. Had I never known him, my music would be missing something. He had to be in my life and I had to be in his. He is part of who I am today and for as long as I live, he will be. And because he was a part of shaping my music, he is a part of everyone else's life for whom I have been and will be a note.

And so it goes.

"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated...As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness....No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

John Donne

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