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“Remember, man, you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Or, in the torrential rains of this premature spring, mud. Clay. Rivers of filth. Clumsy clods. We fight our dull, earthen nature, presuming to overcome it, only to slip back into the mud and mire. And sometimes it seems the more we struggle to escape, the deeper we sink.
In movies, sometimes you’ll hear sublime music playing while watching something awful happen. Turns out that happens in real life, too. As the Baroque brass, orchestra, and antiphonal chorus reached its climax, my mother was busy having a stroke. A few minutes later, as we walked off-stage, I remarked, “Thank God that’s over.” Nor was I blaspheming to offer such thanks: I had every reason to thank God for the week being done. The week had been a grueling, disappointing one – among the worst conventional wisdom tells you to expect – as I knew it would be. And it was finally over. Or so I thought. Little did I know.
Music for me is never not a struggle against a body that won’t cooperate. Why I keep at the struggle is hard to say sometimes, since I’ve never perfected the illusion of not struggling, an illusion vital if you expect anyone to want to listen to you. Always the understudy, never the bride, so to speak. But it’s no one’s fault but mine, or God’s – if it’s anyone’s fault at all – that I can offer no assurance my bodily clay won’t work to suffocate me at the last minute, or even contain itself properly. Whatever progress I make in keeping the struggle for control inaudible is just not quite enough.