Sunday, May 04, 2008


Last night Majida and I went to a concert by the North East Pennsylvania Philharmonic. Since we are used to the extremely high level of performance in New York City concerts, I admit to being a bit wary. I should not have been concerned. The orchestra was crisp and exciting and fun to listen to. It is small, only about half the size of the NY Philharmonic but then the stage would not have accommodated the NY Philharmonic anyway.

What was truly exciting though was the music. For the first time ever I heard Beethoven's Fifth live. Everyone knows the opening four notes and many have heard recordings but how many of us have heard it performed live? It is such an exciting piece of music, full of surprises and drama. Majida remarked that there is a reason that Beethoven has lasted and this was part of the reason.

As I listened to the music I could not help but reflect that there are large parts of humanity that restricts itself severely to musical styles and by extension to thinking that is very limited. I suppose we do this because it is safe. So the next question then is how much of what us more intellectual types think and do is for safety's sake?

It is all too common for the intellectual to look down upon all others who are not clever enough or educated enough to understand the complexities that we revel in. What I have noticed however is that these complexities tend to become frozen. Normal enough I suppose, we really do need safe, even when the safety is gleaned from a momentary flash of brave exploration.

What the mystics advise is to approach each instant in time anew. It is probably unavoidable that we bring our assumptions and opinions and experiences to each new moment, however, we can also step back a bit and enter into each new instant with an attitude of newness. It is a discipline that must be learned but it can be done. Granted that is a place of danger since you are deliberately abandoning what you know to work, to be safe. I admit to being able to do this very rarely but I do attempt it from time to time. I am very often guilty of judging a person or a situation based on my prejudices. Never the less, I do work on stepping around them and looking afresh. It does not always work but very occasionally it does.

So, I sat in the concert hall, great seats by the way, and simply enjoyed the music. I let myself sink into the moment and enjoyed. I found myself with a big smile, bouncing to the rhythm and joy of one of the great symphonies.

I can remember a person, myself in the past, who would have been very stern and concerned mostly with his image to others. He would have been very afraid that someone would find out that he did not really understand classical music and he would have been determined to present a knowledgeable front, but terrified of his lack of actual knowledge. How silly is that? Thank God that we are allowed to transcend such silliness, should we so choose.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir