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Name that tune (07/24/2005)
By Janet Lewis Burns

If you can't be the composer - be the song.

Do we take life far too seriously to enjoy it? Do we tend to act-out melodramas and theatrics in our daily lives? Self-imposed busy work and ringing echoes of exaggerated emotion may be crowding out the song in your heart. Say what? That's my point.

As our three kids were growing from one stage of youth to another, they taught me a lot. Though I was a slow learner, they showed me how to mellow-out and savor life, how to belly-laugh, and that lighthearted pursuits reap the fondest rewards.

Now, as married adults, holding down power-packed positions in the business world, forging ahead with gusto, it is me who urges them, "slow down!" "Making money isn't all there is." "TIME" catches up to us.

"No trumpets sound when important decisions of our lives are made. Destiny is made known silently." - Agnes de Mille

Stealing away for occasional silent, alone times can rejuvenate and put things in perspective. See with your ears. What are some sounds that give you great pleasure?

Sound bites to sink your heart into: barbershop harmony, mourning dove's coo at bedroom's morning window, "You are the wind beneath my wings," biting into an ear of fresh sweet corn, a child playing "make believe," any John Prine song, the pop of a new potato under a wielded knife, my granddaughters' greetings at the front screen door, corn stalks rustling in a summer field, a church bell chiming through a calm winter's night, clean laundry flapping on a clothesline.

Think about it. It shouldn't be difficult.

Many people don't know what to do with silence. Kathleen Dean Moore, a professor at Oregon State University, takes her philosophy students to the mountains, canoeing and hiking, a week before the semester begins.

From her book, "The Pine Island Paradox," c 2004, Moore shares a moving experience, as a spirited campfire discussion led to a prolonged silence.

She writes, "Finally Marissa...stood up, and so did the rest of us, until we all stood in a circle around the fire. ‘I want everybody to hum a note and hold it," she said. ‘It doesn't matter what note. Just start to hum, and don't stop.'"

"And so we did...Everybody hummed their own note, and it was a crazy, discordant sound we made. But gradually the voices tuned themselves into a rich, beautiful, lingering chord. In the wild night, in the firelight, the students' eyes were bright with tears."

As we meet people and make acquaintances, one finds that you either harmonize, hit sour notes, seem to flow on the same wave length, turn down the volume, or you make beautiful music together.

Can you believe that wild, urban birds have been hampered from chirping for a mate, when they perch near heavy traffic noise? It's been discovered that birds are increasing their call volumes to ear-shattering levels. An airmail "tweet-heart" note?

If I didn't read, I wouldn't be as surprised to write. Just as awe-inspiring authors and poets, quietude has to be sought out. Libraries demand silence for good reason.

Canadian composer Murray Schafer addressed current noise alerts: "Surveys show that the number of people who call the police to complaint about sound is much larger than the number of people who call to complain about crime, prostitution, or any other issue," he states.

You've spent your entire life drafting, creating, crafting, and editing the composition that you are today. Never break the connection to your own private wilderness. Take all the standing-ovations life affords.

There's a song in your heart? Tune out...and tune in. 


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