- Scott Bowman
Sometimes a heart is there to break
I’m listening to Erik Satie’s Gymnopies. Stunning little silhouettes of minimalism and longing. Remember George Winston? I took my first love to a George Winston concert instead of going to my senior prom ...because I wanted to be cool.
Who does that?
And while she was my first love, I was neither her first nor her love, so looking cool in my own poor geeky eyes was the best third place I could hope for that night.
George Winston was an exercise in minimalism. He was also an exercise in trying to stay awake. His playing sounded like water dripping off of icicles. Which I think was his intent - at least part of the time.
But Satie... his simple notes sound in the hollows of the heart and quietly echo there in whatever emptiness they find at home.
Sometimes a heart is there to break.
If you’ve never taken a music bath... you ought to give it a try. Oliver Wendell Holmes once said: “Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons, and you will find that it is to the soul what the water bath is to the body.” What’s a music bath - you ask?
Some of you probably remember in the depths of time, the before-time, before the earth was doomed to melt, be run by super-intelligent AIs, game-show hosts, confirmation-bias bubbles, and social media bots - we used to listen to records.
That is such an old-fart thing to say. But it was a fundamentally different way of listening to music. There was so much physical stuff to manage that you couldn’t do anything else really but sit there, look at the album cover, nose around for the next record - and listen.
I listen to music so differently now. While I’m working out, or driving, or working, or dancing... or... or... or...
A music bath is just listening to music, nothing else- letting the impulse of the moment and whatever curiosity infests you guide your next choice. The trail you end up following can be so unexpected... just hunt your responding heart.
Sometimes it will ring like a bell.
It is amazing to me that the feelings of longing, heartbreak, and stinging sadness that sometimes comes from this can be as vivifying as joy and pleasure, and I come away feeling more alive and awake in my skin than from any dopey comedy.
When I was growing up we’d play basketball in the winter, and it was cold sometimes. So cold I’d start to lose the feeling in my hands and feet. I’d come back in to the warm, warm house and hold them up to the fire, and as the blood returned to that chilled deadened meat it began first to throb, then a few pins and needles, finally intensifying to a fiery pain as the flow quickened...
I think our souls are like that, and if we spend too much time deadened by whatever we use to hold away the drab discomforts of the day, the mild and insipid pleasures that are our staples, when the heart finally begins to feel again, the return of life, of energy, of feeling, of our boundless love for being... hurts.
This is how a heart can be both breaking and waking at the same time.
After all, a heart does have to be alive to break, doesn’t it?
Take some time sometime, poke around in the empty moment and see what your heart wants to hear - then feed it that. See what happens.
I’m over here rediscovering that George Winston was (along with being a new-age bore) also a fearsome stride piano player... just awesome.
What would be the first thing you play?