Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Turning on the music

Now that my kaddish year is over, I can go to hear music again. I've been to two concerts, which I'd bought tickets to a few months back, the Who at Madison Square Garden and Leonard Cohen at the Barklays Center.  Both concerts were fantastic.

New York Times music critic Jon Pareles's review of The Who concert is at
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/16/arts/music/the-who-plays-quadrophenia-at-barclays-center.html.
His spot-on review of the Leonard Cohen concert can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/22/arts/music/leonard-cohen-at-the-barclays-center.html?ref=jonpareles&_r=0

In an earlier post, I wrote about how difficult it was to give up live music for a year. I wondered whether hearing music could have provided moments of joy from the sadness of mourning or maybe even provided a new perspective into my feelings. http://mykaddishyear.blogspot.com/2012/08/turning-off-music.html

It's not just that going to a concert would have looked like engaging in frivolity while my loss was still fresh. Rather, I don't think I was emotionally ready to appreciate a live music experience. It made sense to set deny myself the pleasure of music so that I could more fully embrace it after the kaddish year ended. There is wisdom in setting aside these joyful experiences for a specific period of time. As Kohelet (Ecclessiastes 3:4) says, "A time to weep and a time to laugh, A time to mourn and a time to dance." A time to be with one's own thoughts and feelings. The Psalms speak about a transformation of mourning to joy: "In the evening one lies down weeping, but in the morning--glad song" (30: 6) The message is: live through the evening of sorrow before experiencing the morning of joy. Don't skip to joy before fully experiencing mourning. The setting aside of music for a year is another step in  the goal of ensuring that the acceptance of the death of your parent is complete.

Good live music has a way of transporting your soul to a higher place. You feel good. Fully alive. Affirmed. At one point during The Who concert, during the song "I've Had Enough," these words penetrated me: "I've had enough of living, I've had enough of dying, I've had enough of smiling, I've had enough of crying. . . ." Yes, I had enough. Of death. Of pain. Tears. I want to live again and my Kaddish Year prepared me for the reentry into the world of the living. There's very little if any guilt associated with these thoughts. My mother, herself a serious music lover, would have been so happy to see me enjoying music again.

I end with these words from Leonard Cohen, from his song "If It Be Your Will:"

If it be your will
That a voice be true
From this broken hill
I will sing to you
From this broken hill
All your praises they shall ring
If it be your will
To let me sing
From this broken hill
All your praises they shall ring
If it be your will
To let me sing



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