The first sounds I remember distinctly hearing came from the mouths of my parents’ beaming faces. The timbre of their voices was as warm as the marigold walls around us. The richness of their laughs simultaneously quieted and exhilarated me. I wasn’t aware at the time, but this was when I first met Harmony. I was overwhelmed by her presence. Beyond the hum, I could actually hear varying tones. Harmony gave life to those vibrations.
As a result of being born two months early, my inner ears weren’t fully developed until I was about five years old. Until then, my days were filled with visits to various doctors and speech therapists, and my nights were ravaged by fruitless attempts to subdue the discomfort of perpetual ear infections and muffled, static noise. One of the most effective remedies I recall consisted of taking a pair of my mother’s headphones, plugging them into her computer, cranking up the volume, and imbibing the soothing vibrations. Unbeknownst to me, those vibrations were meant to be heard too, not just felt.
Ever since that first encounter with the wholeness of Harmony’s presence, music has been more than a sensation to me; it has become an experience. I attach value to nearly every sound I hear. When splitting sextuplet partials on the bass drum, trilling double stops on the cello, and rolling layered chords on the marimba, I catch glimpses of Harmony in her dynamic relationships between altering pitches and rhythms. In the ensembles I am a part of, I serve as a supporting voice the majority of the time. I tend to focus more on the blend of colorful voices around me than the specific sounds I create; I’m infatuated with what others have to say – and choose to share – through the expressions of their instruments. It is in these moments of tacit communication that I find myself lost in the immensity of Harmony’s humble power. She begets a connection between people that I feel privileged to experience.
This vibrant appreciation for something as ordinary as sound has manifested itself in how I’ve grown to notice and admire intricacies outside of music that I had never before taken the time to see and appreciate.
I came to this realization while balancing in a firm Pincha Mayurasana pose on the bank of the Eno River, studying the towering tree above me. The current of its life circulated through me, and Harmony gave that life a pulse. Its leaves are ruffled but not flustered. It has the ability to grow so tall yet so deep… how? It fosters so much life; it embodies life. And there’s so much change happening not only all around it but inside it. It is the essence of balance. How can this being exist with such grace, such serene, still beauty? This synergy is sublime.
I communed with nature, with the universe, with this turbulent, tranquil tree, and for a happy moment, I felt like an integral part of it and all the beautiful life it supports. This gorgeous, powerful being helped me see the power and capacity I have to give love and support to others and myself. Our culture glorifies independence, but this flourishing tree was so harmoniously and unashamedly dependent and independent. Remembering this tree’s symbiotic relationship with everything around it inspires me to live the same. I want to live like this tree. I want my life to emulate its hectic steadiness. I want to give back to all the life around me without detracting from what I give to myself; I want to thrive from what I give and what’s given back to me. I live to know that Harmony.