Dan the Man is my terrific trumpet teacher. I´m learning more than just how to play the trumpet with him. I´m learning to learn again. Dan told me something about the natural course of a trumpeter that got my mental valve oil squirting: A trumpet player has to, of course, first learn to play the god-damn thing. He (or she of course) has to learn to read music, to learn scales, to learn to make a noise through the instrument, to memorize the fingerings of the notes…then once a trumpet player has learnt the basics, he begins to learn to play less crudely with more technique, and to begin to be able to play for longer with stronger lip muscles without talking after half an hour of practise like a survivor of a head on truck crash. Then of course comes the increasingly complicated music, which gets more technical as time goes on, faster fingerings, difficult scales, sharps, flats, flying out of the horn as if it were a note tamer in the circus. People come and listen and comment on how talented the trumpet player is, how well he plays, how fast his fingers move as his notes go up through the skies. What a solo! He is at the apex of technical ability.
But then comes, says Dan the Man, the vintage years. As the wine grows into the oak, so does the music into the soul. The beauty, the pristine joy of music comes from a trumpet player, such as Doc Cheatham, who created his best work after the age of 70 - music that is technically more simple, but with a depth of feeling, with a profundity of velvetness, that only a true hearted virtuoso can do. Pure expression. He didn´t need to show off his evident expertise, which is what we all aspire to as we begin to learn, but he put the music before the musician. His technique allowed his music to be pure: he enfolded his soul into the music with simplicity and ease. It is when audiences are moved. When e-motions flower. It is when heart touches heart. The music is freed and flows, heals, comes to life.
|Joan Miró. Mujer ante el sol. |
This is a time of change, like in adolescence when we go from childhood to adulthood, but this time it is a step change of direction. We have reached our apex, our domination of the exterior world, and we begin to cave in, in a positive way - we go into ourselves. We turn under and begin to head back towards the mysteries of life. We skip, or drag ourselves, to the secrets. They are esoteric (belong to an inner circle) because they are unexplainable in logical language, and therefore impossible to make exoteric (outside). That´s why it is secret. We explore the unconscious, the mythical part of ourselves. It is somewhat magic - from which the word “wise” stems according to my New Penguin English dictionary. We go towards the place where we begin to end and a universal spreads before. It’s the place maybe where we were as baby children, but totally innocent, without any knowledge, without any individuality to experience it consciously. As adults we go into ourselves with knowledge of who we are. And the Mirós of this world paint meditatively, as if they were children, trumpet players play simply with all of the heart in the world, and geniuses (if they have comprehended their knowledge having the wisdom to combine their minds with their hearts) begin to live in peace with the world, laughing over silly things like a laughing Buddha, and or eating ice cream with gusto.
Or so the Hollywood comedy love film would have me believe.
And somehow I do. I do believe that there is a way to see if someone gets to the end of their life “successfully” (succedere "come after". Meaning "accomplishment of desired end") you see it in their faces, in their air, they are chuckling and at peace, compared to those tight wrinkled complainers who cry over the price of cabbages and disrespectful children. The wise ones allow themselves to enjoy life like the children.
Krishna was childlike. Matthew says in the Bible “I assure you that unless you change and become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 18:1-5.10.12-14). But let us not confuse childish with childlike! We all were childlike once. We all possessed wondrous qualities like unconditional love, trust, playfulness and simplicity. And decide for yourselves what the “kingdom of heaven” is…I think it is us in our truest expression, which being so personal transcends into the Universal.
I know a man who is a silent sabio (wise man). His name is Señor Huguet. He is 84. He does yoga that he recently discovered, he reads books on religion and science and anything that takes his interest. He is constantly learning. He enjoys tasting new knowledge (the root of sabiduria (wisdom) is “savouring” says my Rodriguez-Navas Diccionario Completo de la Lengua Española). He savours his experiences. He would not say a bad thing about low down criminals. He sees well in all. But the thing that makes me realise that he has had a successful life, is that he has developed himself and can truly express himself silently, without a hint of ego. The “proof” that he has delved into his heart and mind, in my opinion, is the feeling he leaves me with. It is impossible to describe. It is esoteric. It is a deep down feeling of still joyous waters, that all is right with the world, that love exists because I am feeling it. I leave him smiling, feeling high on life and I can never work out why. I hardly know him, we don´t ever talk about anything personal. And in the end I conclude, it is simply being beside Señor Huguet and his still deep clear waters of peace and joy. He holds internal harmony. He embraces the good with the bad, the light with the dark. Somehow somewhere his mystical, mythical, unconscious world envelops you in amorous beauty.
I wonder what the secret is? Could it be as simple and clear as a beautiful trumpet solo played from the heart, so that as life unfolds, as we question life, the answer seems to come back humbly, wherever you are, whoever you are becoming, simply to learn to love to live?
In any combination.
|Raimon Panikkar who died recently, aged 91, in August 2010.|
A great Catalan wise man.