It takes many years of playing music, listening to music, studying music and thinking music to learn the simplest of things. The simplest truth about improvisation of music is: The space between the notes is what counts. That’s where the feelings lie. That’s where the music breathes. I realize that the great Claude Debussy, French Composer, has been attributed to that quote (“Music is the space between the notes”) but jazz musicians throughout the decades have repeated it. Because it’s true.
It has taken me many decades of living to determine the same thing is true of life. It seems we/I travel through life waiting for the next “event”…the next note to happen. Our lives are measured by birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, movies, plays, concerts or special restaurants. These are the notes, the events that we see-hear-feel-touch. These are our measuring points. Our moments. We open our smart phones and pull up our “agenda.” It says: Saturday, Mary/Jim wedding @noon…Tuesday, dinner with friends @ 7 pm, Sunday, Raiders party @ Joe’s, etc. etc. The “space between the notes” time is getting through the work day, checking the news and weather, wrestling with the kids, going for a run, shopping for groceries, picking up the dry cleaning, watching “your shows,” and maybe relaxing at the piano for a tune or two.
These are the spaces between the notes. These are the times that also can try men’s souls. This is where we scream at the driver who is day-dreaming when the light goes green. This is where we can hardly maintain control in the grocery check-out line because the lady has misplaced her debit card. These are the real “spaces” between the notes, the times between our “events.” This is where the great music score is born, the tune comes alive, our life takes on real meaning. These are the times we have to allow the silence, the space, the breathing to happen.
Maybe the lady is fumbling for her debit card because her husband is getting his chemo and in his final days on earth. Maybe the lady at the stop-light is not just day-dreaming, but agonizing over how to tell the kids their father has decided to make a new life.
I’m not being overly dramatic. People have drama in their life constantly and we have a problem if it happens while we are waiting…waiting on our next big note/event. Yet those waiting times, those spaces between the notes are what make life so worthwhile. This is our chance to become the wait, the space, the note.
Technology is screwing with our minds. I love technology, but think how it has caused us to “fill in more notes.” We can’t even wait for our e-mail to load so we check our twitter account. We need to fill every moment with non-waiting time.
Yesterday the pharmacy told me they would have my prescription in 10 minutes. I sat down across from a cute little old lady. I remembered I had left my phone in the car and could use this time to check my email. I stopped myself (thank goodness) half way across the parking lot and mentally slapped my face. I turned and went back in and sat down and enjoyed the silence, the space between the notes. And what a wonderful conversation ensued with the lady.
We see a beautiful sunset and feel a need to grab our phone and take a picture to share it with someone Why not just stop…enjoy the sunset for yourself. Slow down, that sunset was made just for you in this moment.
I know you are heading as fast as possible to get to the mountain, but have you noticed the valley?