"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: epiphany

revelations . . .

The Universe works in mysterious ways. In my experience, it almost never agrees with the way I am thinking about things. When I am brought face to face with the true meaning of something that is different from what I thought had happened, I am bowled over by it and humbled that I even had the idea that I could figure it out by myself. Does this ever happen to you?

All my life, I’ve been conscious of and tried to dissect certain subterranean things that seemed to flow through the weaving of my life. For a long time, I couldn’t figure it out. But I had an inkling that there was a greater truth to who I am. And more importantly, WHY I am who I am. Well, as of today, I understand it wholly for the first time.

Without getting into details, I can say that the pieces of the puzzle have to do with genetics, with the role of parents and other behavioral patterns that created nubs in the fabric of my past. We all have that, don’t you think? at least when you read memoirs and observe ourselves whether looking in the mirror, or not? Actually, mine seem pretty tame compared to those of writers who describe mental illness and other inherited disabilities that run through their families.

In my case, it’s not mild but it’s not heavy either. I marvel at the fact that I have managed to survive as well as I have despite the setbacks, the social stigma I experienced from being awkward and too direct or whatever.

What these revelations have resulted in, though, as hard as it has been to be brave and honest about warts and all, is. . . peace of mind. I finally know. And I finally understand. And now, I can breathe easier that there is no great secret in the sky that I’ve been missing about myself all this time. They say that “an unobserved life is a life unlived,” or something like that. Many don’t want to know much and maybe they’re happier that way.

For me, it’s revelatory and a relief. I think I’ll take the day off to recover.

when we appear in the mirror. . .

Have you ever found yourself in a situation observing someone else’s behavior, and suddenly realize that sometimes you behave like that yourself? This is what I call, an “OMG” moment. When a mirror appears before you with images bounced around a situation in someone else’s life, it’s easy to miss seeing our own reflection. Some enduring mysteries of our own lives stem from this kind of avoidance, at least it has for me.

Is this a kind of stubborn self-denial? in order to stay hidden to ourselves as though we have Harry Potter’s “magic cloak of invisibility” wrapped tightly around us? Or, is it simply a way to avoid seeing ourselves the way others might see us most of the time? Once, we start to consider that perhaps there is some truth to the revelations of that mirror, we can either deny it and keep going; or we can look in that mirror and say, “OMG.”

I vote for the “OMG” path. Mainly because none of us is getting any younger. And if we want to live with some kind of personal integrity for the rest of our lives, it’s necessary to take off that cloak of invisibility that we have wrapped around our self-knowledge to ourselves, and to face the music. Before it’s too late to change the wobbly axis on which we move around our world, mystified sometimes by how life turned out or why others treat us badly. It’s us after all, not them. Which is what I had thought and was afraid of all along. But it’s not too late to use this newly found self-awareness and to put one foot in front of the other in a different way, is it?

In this particular instance, it’s a kind of relief that I feel, after feeling somewhat horrified at first and then chastened. We all have delusions of one sort or another. It’s what we do with them that matters, someone said. Or was that hardships they were talking about?

playing it “Bach’s way” . . .

Sometimes I go on music playing binges. Right now, it’s listening to Rosalyn Tureck playing the Well-Tempered Clavier Preludes and Fugues of Bach. She was born in Chicago in 1913 and died in 2003. Glenn Gould, the infamous piano interpreter of Bach hailed Rosalyn Tureck as the only pianist that he revered, which she acknowledged graciously since she never achieved the stardom that he did emulating her playing style. Here are excerpts from an obituary that appeared in the British newspaper, The Guardian, written by Jessica Duchen and published Saturday 19 July 2003.

“You play it your way; I play it Bach’s way.” Addressing the indomitable harpsichordist Wanda Landowska, the equally indomitable Rosalyn Tureck, who has died aged 88, made one of her most famous and characteristic statements. For JS Bach was the composer to whom this strong-willed, demanding and fearsomely intelligent American keyboard player dedicated her life, both as performer and scholar.

She was born in Chicago, the granddaughter of a famous Kiev cantor; she related, with great pride, her father’s tales of a carriage, pulled by eight white horses, taking her grandfather on tour for the high holy days. Her main teachers were Sophia Brilliant-Liven, Jan Chiapusso and Olga Samaroff (the American wife of conductor Leopold Stokowski) and, for harpsichord, Gavin Williamson.

Her talent showed itself early, and she made her public recital debut in Chicago at the age of nine. When, at 16, she auditioned for the Juilliard School of Music, New York, she startled the panel by offering to play most of Bach’s 48 preludes and fugues from memory.

Shortly afterwards, she settled on her future direction during a strange episode in a Juilliard practice room. While working on a Bach fugue, she blacked out for a short time; she came round with an inner revelation that she needed to create a different type of keyboard technique specific to the playing of Bach. Her teacher told her it was a wonderful, but impossible, idea; in response, she changed teachers. She never stopped perfecting this apparently elusive notion.

Tureck’s pianistic style, which (unfairly enough) was a huge influence on the more celebrated Glenn Gould, was uncompromisingly rigorous, intelligent and full of attention to detail: she took, for example, great care over the appropriateness of ornamentation. But what always convinces the listener is the compelling, incandescent, almost evangelical spirit that shines through that detail. She was hailed as “the high priestess of Bach” – and that is how she will be remembered.”

She was the “High Priestess of Bach.” If you have not had a chance to listen to her Bach recordings, you are in for a treat. I introduced them to one of my daughters who wrote back that she had two words to describe her listening experience: “Hubba, Hubba.”