Friday, October 13, 2006

going up and going down

The way upward and downward are one and the same.
-- Heraclitus
It is a fallacy to think that the road back is the same. I’ve blogged before about never returning by the same way. When Jack and I went to Grand Canyon in February, we got there via Chicago but returned via Denver and Orlando. But the truth is, everything has changed on the road back, it is framed by a completely different context.
I know this completely in terms of music, I teach it: there is no such thing as a musical repeat. Though the notes of one section may be precisely the same as those of another, they are not framed in the same context. If a section plays and immediately repeats itself, the first time is preceded by silence and followed by itself. The second time it is preceded by itself and followed by something else entirely. One who sees the forest in spite of the trees, also realizes that form is created by the place that each element holds. So just as important as the section, or path, itself is the role that it plays and the relationship it has in its context.
We call music that has no repeats or restatements, through-composed. Music that uses repeats, restatements, and returns, creates shape and form. But each section that is repeated finds itself framed by different music than before and results in a totally different experience.

When I started up the mountain yesterday, I talked to Allison on the phone. She asked if I had to return by the same path, or if the trail was circular. She knows about my propensity for a different return. It’s up and back, I told her.
But when I had started back down the mountain, I was shocked that the trail didn’t seem the same at all. Truth is, it was poorly marked and at times, I’d walk for a couple hundred yards before I was able to relocate the trail. Even when I was certainly on the path, unless there were landmarks by the way, it was a different experience. The play of light is different. Everything is seen from a different vantage. One sees the “other side of the story,” the opposite sides of rocks, the opposite turns in the trail. In fact, the destination is different. I found myself not coming back down the mountain, but going down the mountain, from the top. An experience has been collected, and I am no longer the same.
Perhaps the path by which we travel is a matter of heart rather than a matter of feet. We define the path not only by which direction we go, but how we experience the steps. When we arrive at where we were, we are not the same person and so it is not the same place. We bring something to it that it has never known before.

So these are my thoughts as I sit at the gate in Albuquerque waiting to board my flight home. I’ll change planes in Dallas, again, and disembark where I embarked. But I won’t be barking up the same tree.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

T.S. Eliot --

"Little Gidding"

Technorati Tags: ,