14 May 2007

The Song of War

I want the war to end.

More precisely: I don't want to hear any more news of war on the radio. The stories provoke a restless desperation in me. I frown and grind my teeth and wring my hands. I feel like my heart is going to explode and there's nothing I can do to stop it.

Turning off the radio is not a solution. It only supplants the misery of hearing the news with tense anxiety--like the little pigs in the houses of straw and sticks felt with the wolf jeering from the front yard.

This afternoon I tried another approach: when NPR began its report about the three missing soldiers, I moved to the piano and began playing Beethoven. With focused passion. A few minutes in and I was no longer "trying something" or wondering if "it" would work; I was just playing Beethoven. The distraction only worked for awhile. Eventually I remembered why I was playing and began to feel....weird.

Split. Not wholly given to either the music or the horror. Aware of both but touching neither. My mind engaged with both but my heart open to neither.

[I found this photo, a photomosaic of the war dead as George Bush, in a blog called Idealog. The 30 April 2007 post entitled "Talking Points on Bush's preoccupation with skin color and democracy" is a poignant read.]

I kept playing. Willfully directed my passion and attention to the music. Passages where I floundered, I practiced--took it apart, slowed it down, ran it and re-ran it, backed up a few measures and played into the place where I'd faltered. I worked this way until I got it right. Could do it right twice. Then continued the piece.

I felt that exquisite simultaneous exhaustion and exhilaration of body/mind/heart/soul/cosmic consciousness that comes now and then at the piano. At the end of the piece, I stood up. Listened to the wind and cricket and wind chime songs floating in through my wide open night time windows.

After a few minutes, I remembered the war. The radio was off. Nothing but wind and crickets and wind chime and my thoughts to listen to. I remembered the war now with no feelings of tension or dissatisfaction or desperation. Just a deep, enduring sadness, throbbing somewhere far away inside myself.

And I thought, Beethoven knew this feeling. In his deafness. A profound, inconsolable sadness throbbing in the only things he could hear--the music and his thoughts.

Today I heard some arguments for the U.S. continued presence in Iraq and marveled to feel my usual resistance to such ideas softening. My concession arose in response to an Iraqui leader's earnest enunciation of the certain disasters that would befall the country if the U.S. armed forces withdrew. His plea could easily be taken as a justification for continued fighting.

But I believe fighting only leads to more fighting. I believe there must be better, peaceful means to address his concerns.

I like to imagine that music might make some other approach possible.

My imagination stumbles trying to picture George Bush transformed by music. I feel split again, aware of the reality of George and aware of the reality of music as transformative medium but unable to merge the two.

Despite the Iraqui man's eloquent support for George's war, I must stand on the side of transformation. I must (re)turn to music. And hope that he is not as deaf as George and can be moved to an insight that entertains a non-violent solution to his concerns.

1 comment:

  1. Cindy Sheehan and 32 other people were arrested yesterday for demonstrating against the war. Surely they were all released. I haven't read. They don't tell such things on the news too well.

    I'm about to stand outside so the wind will bring me the fragrance of gardenias and also the sound of you playing the piano.

    Deep nourishment. xoxoxoxoxoxoxo


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