I know I’m not alone in the sea of people whose lives are changing, whose futures are uncertain, and who are puzzling again with questions about who they are, where they’re going, and whether it’s worth the road it takes to get there. I know I am not alone among those who need purpose, excitement, and truth to speak. Because life cycles and we change and books end and do we really have to do all of this again? Read More »
There are some mornings when I can’t sleep in because I have somewhere I have to be. Then there are other mornings when I can’t sleep in because I have nowhere to be at all, and that makes getting out of bed far too irresistible. The lazier my morning, the more I want to get up and poach an egg, have a slice of sourdough, and deliberate about whether my tea is over brewed or not. I stick my nose in a recycled paper magazine, love its smell, and suddenly want Italian sausage to make its recipes. Not to mention, since buying my camera, I have had to add about half an hour to all of my morning preparation times, to accommodate for the shutter snapping between bites and sips and keystrokes. I have a new, non-literal understanding of the phrase, “cooking time.” I will throw an egg shell into the garbage and be half way across the kitchen before I realize I need that egg shell for my photo. You have to tell the whole story. My camera is teaching me that… my canon and my 2H pencils.
The more I engage with art, the more I realize that so much of life is about seeing. Whether I’m looking through my viewfinder, or my subconscious train of thoughts, seeing is an art and a discipline. To see well is to live well. When you can see, you can make something beautiful. My art professor tells me almost every class period that drawing is not about becoming better at holding a pencil, but refining your ability to see. He comes along, puts a stroke on my Bristol pad where that stroke was supposed to go, and I exclaim, “oh! I see!” I get it. That’s what was wrong. How I wish the art of my life had a professor walking around saying, “no no, look here… you’re not seeing it right… see… it goes like this…” I am having to train my eye to see where the lines curve around a cello, or how light encases apples. More importantly, I have to train my eye to see where grace just gave me something I didn’t deserve, and where a difficult situation just helped to mold me into something more beautiful.
I have a fascination with those my friend and I have defined as the cool people, that is, those who live their lives and present themselves in such a fashion that the rest of us admire. These are the people who know how to wear six different layers all at once without looking frumpy, who master the unmanageable task of wrapping scarfs, and come up with all the creative ideas you wish you had thought of first. Cool people know how to do bizarre things like design pendants out of salt dough and make their own jam. They have organic gardens, their doors are painted red, their kitchens look like magazines, and they are always making things for their cute babies. Cool people keep blogs that total strangers read, own fashionable rain-boots and always seem to be naturals both behind and in-front of the camera.
Their lives are something totally other-than, better-than perfect. They are creative and inspiring. We watch the lives of the cool people because we are amazed by their transforming powers. They transform all of life into story and art. They are confident in expressing themselves and seem impossible to bring down. Even when life is not so picture perfect, they make melody and poetry out of it.
I have decided that what makes these people so cool is not the lace and mason jars and organic vegetables. Cool people are cool because not only do they embrace life, they create with it. They give themselves permission to be who they are against all doubt, and live towards beauty, regardless of the imperfections. Because of this, cool people live with grace, and that grace on a life is what polishes the rough places to a shine. Grace makes beautiful. Grace gives confidence, and the confident bring the beauty of who they are to the world.
Seven is supposed to be the number of perfection, so they say… “they” being the people who know all about numbers and their meaning. But if you know music, you know that the 7th is an unresolved, tension filled note of dissonance. It’s that “almost last” note in the scale, straining for the tonic. It’s out of accord and it clashes, but it’s oh so beautiful. The 7th note has long been my favorite, and to understand why, you need only to listen to it hanging there. Play a song that’s filled with dissonance, and it will stir longings and melodies that no other note can hope to achieve. It leaves you in tension, longing for resolve and to be taken home to the 1st. It always goes there. It has to. Play a 7th, and you’ll always hear it resolve into the tonic in your head. It’s as if the presence of the 7th reminds you of home. It calls it, evidences it. A note of dissonance always ends in rest and completion. And that note, in all of its discord, is beautiful. Interesting that it should be the number we describe as perfection–that perfection would not be the absence of discord and tension, but rather it would be found in the presence of it.
In music and in life, there are notes that have an ache to them and leave you in a place of dissonance. Often we despise the 7th moments in life that hold this tension, because we long for immediate resolve. Our hearts want to go back to rest as much as music wants to find its tonic. We are all straining for final resolution. But these moments can last so long that we no longer hear the tonic note resolving in our head, and we forget that this place of tension actually serves to pull us into the resting place we long for. We wish that we could have only the moments of resolve, and nothing we need resolve from. But somehow the tonic is so much less when dissonance is no longer by its side to bring you there. If music carried no 7ths, it would lose too much of its beauty, so too would life. In some manner, the definition of perfection is found in these beautiful, unresolved sounds that call us home.