Writing is Music, Music is Love

Scriptorium: Email #5

Let’s be honest: we come to writing because we’ve lacked love.

But before this simple statement can have the impact it should, we need to go beyond the surface.

We need to get accurate with the word “love.”

(Biting off more than I can chew, am I? But this is how to stay excited about your writing — reaching just a bit beyond your abilities.)

What is love? I have some theories.

Yet no matter how I explore it, love is one of those topics that keeps on giving.

Here is my attempt at giving some back.

On writing, on love, on the cosmic crystalline music …

The first place we learn about love is our parents — or their absence.

Family sets the tone. Family frames what is imaginable and not imaginable as love.

As innocent babies, we are little more than a raw open exposure to love: we are love receivers.

In these early years, we let the love flow in — a rhythm of days, a succession of moments, touches, glances.

We receive the flow of our familial life, including its interruptions, its cacophonic breaks, its starts and stops and failures in harmony.

We understand nothing but this music: the rises and falls, the dips and crescendos, all emotions and experiences we cannot explain.

And our family is the conductor of this music of our living experience. Not in any conscious sense, of course, for they are living through their own music, dancing to it, embodying it. And their music is a music they have learned from their own parents, adding their spins and flourishes and remixes.

Yes, love is music, it seems.

Love is radically temporal: an ordered harmony through time, a dynamic equilibrium of nested patterns traveling between novelty and continuity, convergence and differentiation, individual and group, the present and the eternal, you and the world.

Love is the very liquid crystal architecture of passing time, flowing out of a supreme intelligence that hears all, knows all, and conducts this flowing procession towards a harmony in which every part is received and reciprocated by the whole.

But there are interruptions to this perfect cosmic music. Because we, too, are independent orchestrators and instrument-players. And so, we play to our own tunes, beat our own drums.

But gather a bunch of unruly musicians into a room, each with their own vision, their own favorite instrument, and none willing to submit to a shared symphony, and the music becomes a cacophony.

Notes crash on notes. Melodies start and stop haphazardly. Screeches and clangs and thuds and screams. It grates the ears. It grates the soul. It makes us disintegrate, come apart.

And us being pure receivers of this music, the disintegration becomes its own dissonant mode of being.

An unsettled tone settles in. It is like an unfinished melody, an eerie hanging note.

Dissonance is always seeking to be harmonized. It is always searching for the elusive equilibrium.

And not finding it within, it strains and pulls in a desperate bid to be completed by the right note, the perfect combination of sound to make its noise, finally, into a melody.

All of us dissonant people, too interrupted from the cosmic music, too off track from the notes we need, are in search for the notes that will complete us, align us back into the harmony we have been missing.

And our only knowledge of all this is the inner discord we feel: the intuitive inner ear that knows something doesn’t ring right within us. Somehow, we’re out of sync.

It is this very dissonance, however — by our listening closely to it — that holds the answer to what the next note ought to be.

At any moment, a dissonant chord can be made complete. At any moment, the melody can be restored, by riffing on the old, adding in the new, and working towards the difficult integration of that dissonant knot into a rapturous new harmony.

But some chords are long and last years. Some melodies take decades to unravel.

It is only by adding the notes of a single day — one note after the next — that an age-long music can begin to shift into a new movement.

And we know when we are in this new movement. We feel it as a totally distinct quality of being. A new season of life.​

I believe writing can provide us the notes we need. It is the search for our next healing moment of harmony.

Our words, our messages, the content of our ideas, are somewhat besides the point, though they are beautiful, necessary notes. Words are ways of being within the music — a dancing in language.

But the shape our writing takes over time, through a continual writing practice, reveals the music guiding us on a super-cognitive level, a harmony which we can intuit only in those rare moments when our writing lines up with the universal symphony.

This takes time. Love takes time.

Love is not a single rapturous moment. Love is listening in to the music, attending to it, aligning with it. And this takes time.

And whenever love is a moment, it is a moment only inasmuch as it is the fulfilment of a long process preceding it, a brief alignment of all those life patterns into a singular majestic crescendo, the entire symphony distilled into a rise that brings all of it — the pain, the loss, the hope, the yearning — to a precious moment of inherent worth beyond words.

And then the music goes on.

That is why writing is a way of being, not a product you achieve or a status you acquire.

Writing means attending to your music: to the ebbs and flows of your living experience, with all its discordant tones and unintegrated harmonies.

And over time, as you get better and better at hearing your inner music, you know which notes to play. You know which steps to take, which decisions to make, which words to put down on this living sheet music.

You hear the cosmic harmony. You come home.

Thanks for lending me some of your time.

I hope this email helped bring you to your own harmony, your own right time.

I hope it played the correct next note for you.

Off to your own drums, now! Be well.




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