This amazing moment happened today.
I've been putting myself through a fast course of piano, music theory and voice instruction. Music was a part of my history growing up, but not a part of my present – and I wanted to change that.
Growing up I learned the intricacies of music through clarinet and saxophone, which can only play one note at a time. And now, I can interweave chords and melodies, like an orchestra of two hands. It's simply amazing.
I've been learning only very elementary songs and rhythms, however I wanted to learn a song I loved that was more difficult. I was in the intro, starting with my right hand to play octaves (the same note - just one high and one low - played with the thumb and pinky of the same hand). I spent two or three days just trying to get the hang of the right hand's rhythm of chord progressions.
Then I worked on the left hand. It was chords, but in rhythms of threes. One-two-three. One-two-three. One-two-three. One-two-three. Each line a different chord set.
All of my week's practices were leading up to the day when I would mix the two hands, the two rhythms:
Here we go.
I ran through the right hand. Okay.
I played out the left hand with relative ease. I took a breath. Okay let's do it.
My eyes, my fingers, my mind pittered back and forth almost scientifically. Meanwhile, the the first chords interlaced, the common notes became rich, ornate harmonies. And almost immediately, I was breathless.
It was so beautiful.
The two 'ideas', the two lines of melody, were gracious individually. But together it was not addition. It wasn't even multiplication. It was exponential.
Wow – the power of two. In piano, it's two hands. In life, two brilliant beautiful people. Exponential.
As I repeated it, I realized I was addicted to the sound of togetherness. I didn't want to go back to practicing one hand at a time. I couldn't. As the right hand, I had to let the left hand bring in majesty.
You know, for a large portion of our life we are practicing our one part – understanding our melody, searching out its nuances, mastering the rhythm of life, and finding joy in our single resonances.
As I learned as a child, music must be practiced. It must be repetitiously driven into the fingers, the mind, the soul until we get it. After mastering a solo, my teacher once said, 'Great. Now memorize it.' It doesn't start as passion. It starts as work. Precision. Paying attention to the details.
I could say the same for life. We understand it, hone it, develop it, work it till we can master ourselves.
But the work of self mastery is for a greater purpose. It prepares us to interweave our melodies with another.
At the piano, after playing both parts together, I desperately didn't want to play them separately ever again. I thought, I'll master it by continuing to play it together over and over again.
Then I stopped. Because it doesn't work that way.
Intuitively I had to practice the right hand by itself, tweaking the details and re-mastering it. But the powerful thing was, as I played, my mind heard the other hand as well, which made the right hand play more graciously, with feeling, as if in response to its silent partner.
So I did the left hand alone again, and it came alive all its own.
And then I realized the fullness of the truth.
Even though we may be exponentially more powerful together, the finding isn't the end.
It's in hearing our voices together, that I now know how to sharpen mine. Now that I feel your rhythm, I know how to enrich mine.
And after a brief experience with you, your life continues to add to mine without even being in it.
It's in our distance a part - whether for hours or months - that I am commissioned to improve myself.
Because I can't get out of my head our song, played together.