I ask myself what can launch me into an altered state of consciousness. But it’s more than that. The deepest beauty is being launched into a state of communion with another human being, or with a group of them. What can propel me into the power of selfless love?
Seeing a person perform an act of kindness is one trigger. Or even reading about it. Looking way deep into another’s eyes is also transforming. And then there’s singing. Eighteen months ago, I stood alone on the outdoor stage at Tanglewood in Massachusetts … and I sang. It was Someday Soon by Ian Tyson. My audience was two.
I gave it all I had – loud, head up, joy on my face:
So blow you old blue northern
Blow my love to me
He’s driving in tonight from California
He loves his damned old rodeo
As much as he lives me
Someday soon, going with him someday soon
Singing so lustily opened something in me. There was a freedom beyond thought. I sang to my friends at the back of the hall, and I believe they “heard” … to the depths of their being.
Cynthia Bourgeault has something to say here:
We know in a very personal way that singing will often bring into play a heightened range of emotion not accessible through speaking alone. The lyrics of a song – say, “Silent Night” – can look bland and harmless on a page, but when you actually sing them (particularly with others), a magical transformation occurs.
On Saturday evening, I saw two films. I’ve written about the first one – Stan and Ollie. The second was A Star Is Born. Lady Gaga plays Ally, an aspiring singer who catches the eye and heart of a famous rocker (Bradley Cooper as Jackson). She’s written a song. He’s created an arrangement for it. And during a concert, he challenges her to come onstage and sing it with him. The lyrics open with the man singing and soon it’s time for the woman’s response. As the moment approaches, Ally is trembling offstage. Suddenly her face tightens and seconds later she walks towards the microphone. On cue, her voice and soul explode to the audience. Face shining, mouth wide open. Nothing held back.
We in the theatre and they in the stadium are transported. There’s thunderous applause in the company of a woman who’s flooding the world.
I’m off the deep end, watch as I dive in
I’ll never meet the ground
Crash through the surface, where they can’t hurt us
We’re far from the shallow now
Infinitely far from the shallow. “Up where we belong”. My head rises. My heart beats in unison with Ally’s. There’s work to be done in this world and I’m here to do my version of it. Thank you, Lady Gaga.