Core Decorum: musicality in all things

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Illustration courtesy of Cecilia Lang.

There is a musicality in all things. The whole world moves and seems to spin a tune with each turn. In the Paradiso, Dante sees the heavenly stars move. One of the saints in the celestial realm says to him, “of diverse voices is sweet music made: /  So in our life the different degrees / Render sweet harmony among these wheels” (Kuhns VI. 127-129).

Music is in every footstep and scratch of pencil lead. Doing the laundry and cooking meals are actions following schedules that move with us through time. Though life can often be mundane or monotonous with repetition of things that must be done, even these things can be viewed, like breathing and the beating of the heart, as vital motions, without which there would be no life.

All the cycles that make up life — the stages of life and the natural changes of the body — flow with a rhythm that pervades all existence.

All our routines and habits, which gather like souvenirs of choices made repeatedly, gain their own music as well. Checking the mailbox at the same time, coming home at the same time, drinking coffee the same way every day — these are all part of the symphony to which every motion contributes.

Life’s twists and turns can seem less alarming if one sees every new day as unexpected, but not entirely random. These patterns do not limit us to certain modes of life or prevent us from excelling beyond the ordinary, but they enhance everyday life.

John O’ Donohue, an Irish poet, wrote: “I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.”

Noticing the way motion seems to flow from one person to another can help us remember the communal bond that unites all living things. What one person needs today, you might need tomorrow. Our places are not fixed, nor is our purpose always the same. Like stars in seasons, our positions shift in relation to others, to shine light on divers courses. But our motion can always contribute to the symphonic celestial motion of the earth.  

Theodore Roethke wrote in his poem “The Waking:” “I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow. / I learn by going where I have to go (18-19).” Approaching life more simply can sometimes help us see it more clearly and appreciate it more fully.

Conflicts will find resolution, and chords will progress as the world continues to turn. It is so easy to take for granted how seamlessly the world seems to coordinate all these different motions.

The trees dress differently each season, and the moon waxes and wanes as the month progresses; somehow, everything naturally finds its place.

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