Saturday, November 15, 2014

A New Kind of Safety

I could only understand about 60% of what Mizushima-san told our quartet during the nearly two hour long coaching that we had with her this morning.  I did understand roughly that much.  But the remainder was a search in the eyes and the air for what should be done.  Sometimes she would make a comment and I wouldn't understand anything but her gestures.  And sometimes those gestures merely let me know to what passage she was referring.  In those times of meaning's absence, I had to pay attention.  The next time through those few measures, something would be different and I would have to know it before it came.  Often her words said to me, Pay attention, there is something you're missing.  And I woke up in a way, remembering a state of being from years ago.  She encouraged us to forget orchestral playing–the transparent sound, the strict sense of time–and become more present, more flexible.  But orchestral playing is primarily what we practice.  A large percentage of our playing time is spent striving for anonymity in sound and expression.  There is safety there.  But in these hours a new kind of safety returned.

How many years of living in Japan will it take to earn the right to see the people around me?  What level of language proficiency will I need to ensure that it is not my foreign ignorance that treads on the space of others, but rather a conscious decision in the face of inertia?  What will it take to allow myself to move freely in an orchestra, to break ranks and play with the violist three feet away from me?  What reserve inside of myself do I need to trust?  Must it be silent for a long time, must it go without expression until it accrues the desire, until it becomes a need?

There are so many ways to live.  So many wonderful ways to live.  And sometimes inertia and group mentality cancel some of the best ones.  What happens if we trust ourselves?  What beautiful and amazing acts of creation and expression could be possible?  Perhaps a new appreciation for living in the full sense of what the brain and body can do in the time we are here.  But how can we teach and learn this?  It seems it must be such a difficult thing to teach, for to correct a person easily undermines their self-trust; and to learn it we must look for guidance beyond the examples immediately in front of us.  I think it must take great imagination and courage.  I'd like to try.  Living here is teaching me a desire to try.

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