Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Orchestration of Life

"Sing a new song to Him; play well and joyfully." --Psalm 33:3

On a recent wine tour, we met a very pleasant couple from Florida. He was a conductor; she was a musician. They confided the pleasures and challenges of their employment in an orchestra as they viscerally enjoy the investment very literally heard in their livelihood, yet endeavor to translate their passion to a seemingly disconnected generation.

"They think it's elitist," she almost whispered, as it was unmistakable that classical music had been an intimate benefactor for many years of her life.

And I felt sad. There are traditions and values we are losing to a outlying generation. As we have adopted bulging schedules, technology, convenience, and overall newness, I reflected upon what we will lose in another 25 or 50 years with an aging generation that often feels irrelevant--convicted and unwavering but irrelevant. Willing and compromising, yet increasingly irrelevant.

The contention for me is how to maintain appreciation for tradition and custom while building onto a foundation?

Many orchestras have conceded to playing contemporary music. Others have started to sway their focus more into the community. They are finding ways to break the image, defuse the massive gulf that seems to lie in economy and demographics.

I am observing that resilience is not only a quality, but a value:

1. We must adjust to realize old and new are both worthwhile.

I have discovered that life is not as much like a box of chocolates for me as it is like macaroni and cheese--you can throw in a powder or something fancy but you always boil elbow macaroni and it's probably gonna remind you of something you love.

Kraft macaroni and cheese is bright orange, cheap, and terribly bad for you but I'm probably not alone in that it reminds me of both childhood and my early twenties. Every Thanksgiving I make my Great-Grandma Tinsley's macaroni and cheese and know that it will live on to garnish the table of my own great-grandchildren. I remember how my own Grandma taught me how to make it every time I'm going over the mental check list of the ingredients. There is no other macaroni and cheese like it.

There are new recipes for macaroni and cheese that I have added to my cook book as I have discovered a passion for cooking and baking. If I would have stopped at Kraft, how would I have ceased to enrich my life?

2. We must learn that not all people have shared life experiences.

I was raised to appreciate classical music. It means something significant to me. I understand the passion. I remember many days doing homework and listening to classic soundtracks. It touched upon an experience--new friends in private school, film that touched my life, feelings of peace and tranquility. These are emotions and feelings that we all share. The disconnect that most people have is they will not realize the same emotion in a different vehicle. If we are reaching out to motivate others to understand our cause or art or inspiration, isn't part of the growing process recognizing what we may be missing in our own lack of experience? We should motivate ourselves to invest in the interests of others with an open mind and heart.

3. We must not compromise the message.

As we "sing a new song" in our lives, we must recall the motivation and the execution are center stage. As we play an instrument, knit a blanket, pioneer a new business, write a book, the profit is often how we are doing and not what we are doing. As you consider a task, hobby, career, entertainment venue, what is your incentive? Is there purpose in your choices? Does the investment of time involve a new skill, a new friendship, a perspective that may challenge and stretch your imagination? Does your execution of learning or applying yourself underscore joy, graciousness, perseverance, humility?

I really internalized one of the definitions of the word "symphony" taken from Webster's Dictionary: harmony of sounds.

May the new and the old join together, to be pursued  in a consistent, orderly, and pleasing arrangement.

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