When the song falls silent ~ disconnection and disorientation
I was chatting with Madison Woods on Facebook the other day, and discussing a post she’d written about the three kinds of music. And the fourth kind.
This is what she says:
“Instrumental music is the music most people will think of when the word ‘music’ is used. It’s the kind you hear with your ears and tap your foot or sing along with. Music of the spheres is the sound emitted by celestial bodies as they move through space. I have heard of this and even listened to recordings made from outer space, but it wasn’t something I’d connected with when I first heard about it. Music of humans is the musical harmony between the souls of humans. It is this one that struck the chord with me when I heard about it for the first time this morning.
This music between souls of humans explains a lot about why some people just don’t get along from the get-go, and why some click and resonate so well from the very first time they meet. It adds to the explanation of the phenomenon of soul-mates. Until I met Rob, I didn’t believe in soul-mates, by the way, so I’m a relatively newly converted believer.
And now I remember how this had to do with the marketing. It is from this place of harmonic resonance that the connections between people arise to make the kind of marketing Lynn talks about in her book possible. It’s about forming communities and tribes (a well-used, maybe over-used, buzz word in the online social marketing arena) of others who share your world-views. Its not necessarily about forming mono-cultures of those who are pursuing the same goals as us (i.e. writers grouping with writers… satisfying on a personal level, but perhaps not a good marketing strategy). In a village full of bakers, who’s going to shoe the horses or till the ground?
The thing I haven’t mentioned yet that excites me most of all about this whole music business is a fourth kind of music – one she didn’t mention, and I haven’t seen referenced anywhere, but I have heard. It is the between music. I know some of you hear it and just don’t know what it is. I feel it between myself and the earth, and I actually hear the earth humming at night sometimes. I sense between music while walking in the woods beneath the trees. Certain plants, certain animals, particular rocks and certain seasons all resonate with me in ways that can be explained by this kind of music I can’t define except as between.”
I confess it brought up some powerful thoughts in me, because I knew exactly what she was talking about. It’s almost impossible to describe in ordinary terms and for those who are sceptics, then I suspect you have plenty of explanations for what I have felt and heard. The best way to illustrate it is via my own fiction; the following are two excerpts from The Bet, where the main character is trying to understand a number of things about his life and is sent on a long walk on the North York moors to try and get his thoughts straight.
“So he walked, obediently, and found himself getting higher and higher into the hills and this breathtaking silence and crystalline air. When he’d gone as far as he dared and still be able to get back before dark, he stopped. He was on open moorland, scarcely a tree in sight save low scrubby birch and rowan. There was snow on the ground up here, frozen hard and untouched by the bright winter sun, and the sky was like an immense dome of icy blue glass. He felt as though he could almost touch the sky; it seemed so close and solid. Tufts of heather showed black through the snow here and there, and large grey boulders, lichen-stained and worn by weather littered the ground. His breath hung around him in white clouds, and he could feel the sweat from the steep climb drying and cooling on his skin. There was a curlew calling somewhere, but he couldn’t see it however hard he tried. He cleared a rock of snow and sat down cautiously and let his breathing slow and quieten till all he could hear was this great empty moorland. There were lots of small sounds, once he was himself quiet enough to hear them. A thrush was breaking open a snail, halfway down the valley it must have been but the sound of shell on stone reached him so clearly it could have been only a few feet away, such was the clarity of sound. A grouse clattered somewhere behind him; its call of “go back go back”, reminding him he would need to turn round and go back soon. After he had sat for some time, he fancied he could hear something beyond the small noises of animal and bird life, or the occasional aeroplane, or distant car, or even the soft soughing of the wind among the heather and stones; a kind of gigantic pulse, soft and deep and very slow. He was aware he had got very cold, that his bum had become numb with sitting on the cold unyielding rock, but still he listened, entranced.
A fox called harshly somewhere in the distance, making him glance up. The sky was still light but the sun was gone.”
Later he is attempting to explain his experiences:
““It felt as though something very large was alive up there, that was what it seemed like,” Ashurst went on. “So large I couldn’t see it. Am I making any sense?”
“Perfect sense. I go up on the moor quite often; it’s a very clear place. No illusions up there.”
“So I wasn’t imagining it, then?”
“Good God, no. I feel as if I can see into forever from up there.”
“Yes, but it was something else too.”
“Go on. Don’t be afraid to say whatever you felt.”
Ashurst hesitated, trying desperately to arrange words, which wouldn’t stay where he put them. Finally, he said, simply,
“I felt as if the whole world were actually alive and I could feel its in-breath and its out-breath.”
The old man smiled and poured more tea.”
During much of my life, I have been able to still myself and feel that giant in-breath and out-breath, that deep, silent pulse of life, often up on mountainsides or by the ocean at twilight. I’ve been able to feel it in a busy London park, hearing the sublime, silent songs of the beds of flowers and the towering plane trees. I’ve been able to hold a wild mouse in the palm of my hand, meet the minute eyes and hear the song of that little creature. Many times I have pressed by ear to the trunk of a spring-time silver birch and beneath the river of rushing sap I have heard the voice of the tree itself. I’ve sat in Quaker Meeting and felt and heard the collective song of the community, humming softly beneath the sound of ticking clocks, rasping breath and gurgling stomachs.
But lately I feel as if I have gone profoundly deaf. Worse, as if the song never existed and that I have been deluded to think it did. Yet reading Madison’s post reminded me that if I am deluded, then not only is she also deluded but vast numbers of people have also been, and I feel a measure of comfort.
I have no answers to this yet, beyond the knowledge that the disconnection and disorientation I feel may be just a part of the journey, a passage through silence and perhaps into a deeper faith and a deeper relationship with the mystery that is life.