When the Magic Happens

Alone. I like to be alone. Alone with my thoughts. Alone in a world created by my imagination. Alone with stories imagined and captured by countless others. People have recognized this and, understandably, have called me a ‘loner.’ Then, of course, they feel it their duty to invade my privacy. “It’s not right for you to be alone. Get out and meet people! Socialize! Enjoy life!” (As if it’s not possible to actually enjoy the quiet solace of solitude!)

There are times, however, when folks gather together for a common cause…and magic happens. This is the point where some people would provide a litany of group activities that are worthwhile. These would range from the marches in Selma in the 1960s to those who challenged tyranny and oppression in Tienanmen Square in 1989. They would add events in life where more than one is necessary…marriage or a soccer match.

Those who know me know that I am a musician. I’ve made music for more than 40 years. In fact, it’s when I am creating music that I find myself closest to myself and to God. I find enjoyment when I am sitting in my room, alone with my guitar, simply noodling about. There is something about closing my eyes and feeling the strings under my fingers that soothes. It can create a moment of total mindfulness. I am aware of the sound; the touch; my breath. Awareness fills my senses and I am carried away on the wings of the moment.

I have played with other musicians and singers. While, for me, being with other people is not necessarily the most comfortable experience, it is still an opportunity to experience the magic. There is something in the struggle with others to create art that adds life. Just as a butterfly struggles to free herself from her cocoon, music that struggles for its freedom can then spread its wings and fly. The band may be enriched by the experience. However, the real magic happens when the newly freed music touches the souls of the listeners.

Today, my dear friend sent me something that exemplifies how people gathered together create a magical moment that far exceeds any solo effort. She sent me a video of a song. She had introduced me this particular song a few months ago performed solo. I’m sure that some of you have heard of ‘The Cup Song’ from the movie Pitch Perfect. It’s a cute ditty where a girl sings a song at an audition using only a cup for accompaniment. When I saw it, I was intrigued by the imagination of the writer and producer. They had taken something exceptionally simple and presented it with a creative twist. And, there was magic. In the video I viewed today, the song was reimagined for quartet. There was magic four-fold! The addition of harmony, rather than cluttering, added new layers of color and texture that makes the song compelling. More than that, however, I saw people who were interrelated. They had worked and struggled to produce something together that was impossible for one person. In collaborating they created a ‘community’ gathered to enjoy the moment and each other. In the process…magic!

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