But the spirit which one desires to see spring up is the Athenian spirit, which finds its satisfaction in ideas and thoughts and beautiful emotions, in mental exploration and artistic expression; and is so absorbed, so intent upon these things that it can afford to let prosperity flow past like a muddy stream.
— Benson, Joyous Gard, Emotion
Sometimes I manage to fall down in a hole without knowing it until I’m somehow reminded of the special light of Joyous Gard. Last night, for example, my wife and I visited one of my favorite places, the bookstore. Just being surrounded by all those books normally excites me; I love the thought of being in the midst of so many ideas. But last night was different. I felt lost and disinterested. And as I looked around, no title or section seemed to inspire me. I looked in the literature section and then through the poetry books; I tried to read several poems but found that the background music in the store was unnerving and that it upset the rhythm of the verse. So I kept looking; I think I walked down every aisle in every section, picking up various titles along the way to thumb through. I was trying very hard to get my mind back on a path of interest.
It really wasn’t until the store was about to close that I found a selection that caught my eye; it was a book called The Lives of the Great Composers. I picked it up, sat down in one of those big chairs and started flipping through the pages. Immediately, I came across a chapter on Mozart. Here’s what the author of the book, Harold Shonberg, says about Morzart’s most powerful opera, Don Giovanni:
The overture sets the mood. With a few diminished-seventh chords and a D-minor scale, Mozart creates a feeling of anxiety, intensity, anguish, oncoming horror. Near the end of the opera the scale reappears, and one’s hair stands on end.
Those are powerful words, aren’t they? They speak of a sensitive spirit that easily calls forth the winds of emotion. And for me, it’s good to be reminded of the importance of such a spirit.
Days 27-30 Guide
This Memorial Day weekend surround yourself with things that light the fire of emotion. Spend time with your family and friends, laugh, and listen to music. Look for the beautiful things that help to soften your spirit.
© 2005, Levi Hill