I keep a list of coincidences in my phone. A few times per year I toss things in. I keep the bar high – there should be a real, “no f’ing way” aspect to whatever lives there. Otherwise, it doesn’t belong.
One just happened. I’ll share.
November 3, 2022
A housekeeper visits my place monthly. I have a digital canvas on the wall that rotates through a collection of art I’ve grabbed from an online curator. When you wave your hand in front of the canvas, it changes. After the cleaner was here, I saw they changed the photo to a piece I hadn’t seen before. Lovely- let’s keep it.
November 10, 2022
One week later, a favorite writer posted an essay, “Music, Mystery, and the Relationship Between Vulnerability and Freedom“. This showed up in my feed, below. What the hell? How was this art from 1915 now hitting me from two directions – literally – from my computer in front of me, and hanging on the wall behind me. I snapped a photo with my phone, and flagged the article to read later.
November 21, 2022
Jazz music is wonderous, to me. It is sprawling and continuously evolving… The same song will morph each time it’s played. All music is beautiful, in its own way, but jazz is particularly suited to imagine new frontiers and surprise in unexpected ways. A constant mystery – even to the performers. There is a type of jazz I’d never listened to before: Free Jazz. No plan whatsoever – musicians get together and respond to each other as they play. I finally went to see it live. To those who aren’t jazz fans (and even those who are), this clip won’t sound very special at all. But, read this text I sent to my friend the next morning, and I hope it encapsulates how I experienced this this.
“I felt last night’s show was a metaphor for life. It was harsh, frustrated, chaotic, confusing, upset. But then, as in life, the sky opened up and sun shined, 11:33pm, I have a recording of those 7 minutes. I had to close my eyes – my experience drastically changed – clear awake mind, no longer in the venue. Some other place. Everything was fine. Everything was peaceful, no questions, no worries. It lingered there. The first period of angst created this incredible opportunity for this moment. Just like life. Both sections of the show can only be explained with the other one. And then the music journeyed further, but at never left the place that it discovered at 11:33pm. If I could name this show, it would be called 11:33pm. If I had a full recording of it, I would listen again many times. I was and still am stunned.”
November 22, 2022
Free Jazz still swirling in my mind, I finally got around to reading that article I’d flagged no November 10. Here’s an excerpt:
“Of all things, music can lift us closer to the sacred. [Music] has the ability to lead us, if only temporarily, into a sacred realm. Music plays into the yearning many of us instinctively have — you know, the God-shaped hole. It is the art form that can most effectively fill that hole, because it makes us feel less alone, existentially. It makes us feel spiritually connected. Some music can even lead us to a place where a fundamental spiritual shift of consciousness can happen. At best, it can conjure a sacred space.”– Nick Cave
This is precisely the feeling I was trying to describe to my friend, via text, only hours prior. Funny, how I managed to put-off reading this article until AFTER I’d had the powerful experience with free jazz.
It’s as if the entire month of November was architected to hit me with a bolt of peace – delivered via music at 11:33pm 11/21/22 – and further, provide context around it, within this beautiful reflection from Maria Popova and Nick Cave. The linkage was all made from this piece of art, No. 1 Altarpiece, by Hilma af Klint in 1915.
Exploring more about Hilma, I found the following:
“Klint reimagined the role of the artist, seeing herself as a receiver more than a creator. In freeing herself of a certain measure of ego, she achieved a radical artistic self-possession, and ultimately chose to follow her “inner voice.”– Jennifer Krasinski
Ah, yes. Inner voice.
A year and a half ago, I was slowly overtaken by that feeling we have as kids – school breaking for the summer. What a fantastic relief – to be unshackled from tyrannical routine – simply able to live, and flow. Somehow, a few decades later, I was able to rediscover that feeling. But it wasn’t about relief of school. It was relief from life. An incredible lightness. Summer will now last for the remainder of this ride – so it seems.
Will anyone be able to read this, and feel what I am feeling here? I suspect it will all seem quite banal… that I am stretching to imbue significance that isn’t really there – connecting imaginary dots across very ordinary events. On the other hand, I am increasingly sure the way I’m experiencing life lately is not unique to me – that life really IS far more rich and luminous than our tunnel vision allows us to grasp. We all have a shot to break the tunnel. Many others, deceased and still living, see something here.
“The luminous and shocking beauty of the everyday is something I try to remain alert to, if only as an antidote to the chronic cynicism and disenchantment that seems to surround everything, these days. It tells me that, despite how debased or corrupt we are told humanity is and how degraded the world has become, it just keeps on being beautiful.”– Nick Cave