Thursday, November 15, 2012

Postcards From My Childhood Part 2: The Piano

Previous installment

"The child is the father of the man", they say. Surprisingly, I understood this even as a child. And so I sent forward to my elder self some thoughts and images which I knew would be helpful, and which I suspected I'd otherwise forget. As my fiftieth birthday approaches, I'm revisiting them.


I started taking piano lessons when I was a mere six years old, and it wasn't long before I did what every child is irresistibly compelled to do: I used my forearms to mush down all the keys. And I listened very keenly to the result, which I recognized as more than mere cacophony.

I found, to my delight, that within this jumble of notes was every song. I could, if I concentrated, pick out Row Row Row Your Boat...in any key! TV commercial jingles. Concertos. Every song ever written, and every song that ever might be written was there to be selectively tuned in to. Nothing was "played", yet everything could be "heard".

I had learned a new faculty; focusing attention to create the perception of change, as opposed to the more normal passive perception of change. The sound entering my ears was unvarying - "out there" was an unchanging jumble. But "in here" played exquisite symphonies. It wasn't imagination; the notes had actually been struck. It was just a matter of internally moving one's attention around static notes, rather than having notes externally moved around one's static attention.

On a gut level (I wouldn't have been able to articulate any of this at the time), I came to suspect that this was how it all works. We live surrounded by a static Everything, and apparent movement and change are created by movements of your attention. All notes are struck; we spend our lives arbitrarily tuning in to this or that.

For one thing, where's Heaven, assuming there is one? We've mapped much of the galaxy, but have yet to find an immense cloud populated with happy reclining people. Yet lots of wise people assure us heaven exists. Indeed, I've experienced it, for fleeting moments, and so have you, but we didn't transport up into the sky - nor have we descended for fleeting moments in Hell. Both were experienced (and are always available for re-experiencing) right here.

And what isn't experienced right here? Even when we travel, isn't it always with the same eery, unshakeable sense of right-hereness? Who can fail to suspect that this pervasive Presence isn't the bedrock of it all?

All notes are struck. That's the postcard.


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