Yesterday, brushing my teeth in the evening, I had an epiphany. That’s appropriate. It’s the time of the church year called Epiphany. And the beginning of a new year is a good time for epiphanies.
What was my epiphany? It’s interesting that you can have a sudden, illuminating idea in just a second, and yet I’m not even sure I can adequately describe all the things that converged in my thoughts to bring about this idea.
It started on Thursday when Julia became obsessed with thoughts about all the bad things going on in the world, particularly the terrorist activity in France. During most of Thursday, Friday and Saturday she could talk about nothing else. The world was going to end. Everything was going to collapse. We were going to have another 9-11. England was going to get destroyed. And there’s no way to reassure someone in the grips of an obsessive idea. You just have to slog through and it and propose a game of scrabble, a walk with the dog, anything.
Saturday the plot thickened. Joseph was having a bad day as well. I began to think that the end of the world was not such a very bad idea.
And then I was brushing my teeth, and had this sudden vision of myself, 75 years old, and Julia calling me up and me reassuring her that the world was probably not going to end and how about a game of scrabble. And immediately after this thought, the idea that maybe I’d have to write a whole symphony in order to survive this.
That’s where the epiphany came in. It suddenly became clear to me that I create music and writing as a way of balancing things out, creating beauty to balance out the things that aren’t beautiful. And that thought was swiftly followed by the thought that maybe humanity as a whole does this, always birthing symphonies and art and the beauty of gardens and anything else we can think of, in order to battle the ugly and sad and horrible.
It doesn’t even have to be a symphony. Pulling the weeds in the garden. Dusting a shelf. A smile and a supportive touch on the shoulder. It all goes into the balance of the good and beautiful.