Friday, February 19, 2010

Thank You For the Music . . .

Really, I wasn't expecting this to be particularly different from a lot of other recitals I've attended at the cutest, boldest, most wonderful little theatre I've been partial to for the past 8 years.

Don't get me wrong: I enjoy their plays immensely, but often, the recitals are just a fun night out for me, since I haven't grown up with the music. I can't sing along with the rest of the audience; I can't always understand the folksy wisdom that forms such an important backdrop to them; and often, the recitals are the first time I've heard the songs that the rest of the audience has imbibed with the air they breathe. I can only applaud the performances in terms of the quality of singing, which makes my response rather limited. I often forget the songs themselves and fail to recognize them when my daughter hums them, expecting me to join in.

So while I enjoy myself for the evening, it rarely leaves a lasting impression on me, like the plays often do.

However, today, to my surprise, the songs and their performances made me laugh and cry, and I don't do either easily. It always amazes me when this happens without my consent or expectation.

The theatre is holding a two day Folk and Classic Rock recital over this weekend, and if you've been reading this blog, this is not the music that, how shall I put it? Oh yes, moves my soul. Even though I did grow up listening to as much of the Beatles and ABBA as any other kid of my time, I am more of a Kishore Kumar- Lata Mangeshkar kind, a Hindi-movie-song-addict, and my kind of folk music is Gujarati Garbas.

And today, the theatre used no Beatles or ABBA (from whom, of course, I've borrowed the title of this post), which have become so pervasive that listening to them is fun, but rarely much more than just uncomplicated fun that comes from comforting, familiar lyrics and melodies.

On the drive home, I started thinking about this. I had never felt the teenage angst that I used to read about, nor was I ever angrily rebellious or vehemently non-conformist. I didn't feel alienated, disappointed, or depressed. I didn't have the wild streak that drove me away from home in search of an undefinable dream (my immigration was a deliberate choice, not a desperate escape). I never really felt misunderstood; why, then, did these songs of displacement affect me so?

But like the deceptively simple diction of the songs, the answer to this was simple in the way all complex, universal truths are simple: the songs spoke of the longing for home, the inability to define or reach it, the need to belong, the miracle of sunshine, the rebellion against thought-numbing conformity, the unspeakable obscenity of war, the fear of losing all the moments as time marches on, the entrapment of thoughtless choices, the immensity and futility of barriers, the indescribable sweetness of love, . . . the list goes on.

Usually, when I am affirmed of my place in the universe, this affirmation comes through an identification and understanding of an idea or attribute connected to the places I have trotted away from, the terrain I call Des. This evening has been one of those few times when this affirmation reaches me through an attribute from the land that is my chosen home.

It indeed feels like a life-changing epiphany when one recognizes an unbreakable, undeniable connection with the soil that, in archetypal terms, is one's Janma Bhumi, the land one emerges from. But today, I am doubly humbled and honored to have been included, accepted, through the shared music of its people, by my Karma Bhumi, the land I have chosen on which I may be tested, where I may prove myself through my choices and actions.

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