Monday, August 9, 2010

The Beauty of Life

In Gretchen Rubin’s, The Happiness Project, she embarks on a year-long journey to further appreciate her life and be happy. Mind you, she is already happy with a wonderful husband, 2 beautiful kids, a job she loves, and has everything she could ever desire. But she doesn’t feel as grateful as she thinks she should be. She didn’t want to live her life and some catastrophe happen to look back and realize how truly happy she was earlier, if she only knew how to enjoy it THEN.

One of the many many things she does is read about death and other horrible topics as part of her exercise. I have been doing that too. Sometimes I find myself being able to relate well to what has been written and find comfort that many of the human experiences are the same. Sometimes, it becomes too much and I need a break from it. To counteract my sorrows, I thought about what brings me joy.

Although I am not very creative or imaginative in the artistic sense, I do find great joy in the talents of others precisely because I know I lack them. To be moved and inspired by others is one of the most profound experiences I have been most grateful for. I wish I had more moments like it.

I am a big fan of classical music, movies, and non-fiction. Most of my iTunes collection is relaxing classical music. I read 2-3 books at a time. And have been known to finish 3 books in week. I work in the film industry and will watch anything if a friend wants to go to the theatre. I’m by no means an expert in any of these areas. I love the mainstream stuff and only know a few works that may be common knowledge to aficionados. I just thoroughly enjoy having my thoughts and emotions exercised, moved, and affected. That connection to a song, word, or person is what makes me feel alive.

When I first heard Vitali Chaconne, my life changed in an instant. By this point, I had a rather large classical music collection. I had been listening to KUSC, our local classical radio station, for a couple of years. I had never heard Vitali Chaconne and from the first few notes I felt I was in a trance. The first few bars are barely perceptible. The melody starts and it’s haunting, full of sorrow, dramatic, yet hopeful. The notes rise up, then go quiet. It is both powerful and delicate, light, and graceful. It feels bold, maddening, relaxing and defeated at different parts. The piece is almost 10 minutes long and by the end of the first minute I was actually crying my eyes out in the car as I was driving. I felt both embarrassed and lucky to have reacted the way I did. I was so in awe, so majestically at one with the music. I had never heard anything like it and my body felt electrified in a hyper-aware state as each note played out. It is now my favorite classical song.

Aside from Vitali Chaconne, I have been moved in equal measure in the first few words of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. I cried my eyes out upon first hearing the Swell Season’s song Happiness. Avatar, The Hangover, Wall-E, and Toy Story 3 were grippingly moving, amusing, funny, and touching.

I contemplated the almost-religious experience of Vitali Chaconne and wrote the following quote:

“There is no greater joy or beauty in life than hearing, reading, or seeing for the first time what will become a favorite song, book, or movie. Nothing can rival the uninitiated mind as being moved to such great lengths in an instant.”

That’s what’s also so fleeting about life. The first time experience of anything can never be repeated again with that same person, song, book, or movie. The novelty, the newness, the virginity of it all can never be recaptured. The second time around you know what’s coming, it’s expected, it’s no longer fresh to your mind, your senses. How untouchable it all seems. I can only hope I will have a thousand more moments...

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