I was reflecting the other day on what Christmas might mean for people in general. I have recently been listening about people, who are experiencing distress as they transition through a time that they would have otherwise shared with a loved one, but that person will no longer be there. Others that are victims of domestic abuse and enter the season with trepidation, more so than other times, because of increased alcohol use and misaligned expectations. There may be those that will be enjoying what may be their final Christmas with a loved one and every moment is savoured, drinking in memories for later retrieval. Children who might in term time get a free school meal, unlikely to have a turkey roast with all the trimmings to look forward to, let alone any gifts. Of course there are those where this is a religious celebration with deep spiritual meaning. Others it is an opportunity to reflect on the gifts life brings regardless of religion or belief. There are those that will share their time with friends or family, from a select few to a crowd. All there through choice, obligation or a mixture of both, loving it or getting through it, being at ease or challenged. There are those that are alone.
So what have come from these reflections…
That when we greet or pass the time in small talk, to try not to make assumptions, consider that Christmas time may be a glorious one, but it might also be a tough time too for some, for any number of reasons. All this considered it brings to light humanity in all its diversity. It demonstrates the ebb and flow of life and provides an opportunity to consider the humble beginnings of the Christmas story, a story of life in a world of judgement and expectation, but where the essence remains the same - that of life in adversity which requires love and understanding from within ourselves, to make anything possible. No one else can do this for us, it is using our circumstances to learn about the person within, and letting your light shine.
I have always had a passion for music and singing, and for me one of the greatest aspects of it is that complete strangers can come together and create something beautiful. Why does this work so well? There is a common goal and a passion to make it happen, that’s why. It doesn’t even matter if you are singing from the same hymn sheet, or if you are doing a jazz improvisation, the aim is the same - to give others pleasure through music.
So why not apply this to our every day. Instead of arguing over what the notes are and how they should be interpreted, have a go, and see what it sounds like, what the feedback is and whether the mood is right. Music making is about testing things out, communicating and working through it together through rehearsal. Testing out new things seems ok in rehearsal, it’s fine if you get it wrong, that’s what rehearsal is for. Rehearsal is also leading to something, a final goal, a vision. Often it is said “bad rehearsal, good performance” and in my experience, never a truer word. This embraces a sense that we falter, that we try things out, that we feedback to one another about how the mood, the style, the sound comes across. Apply this to other areas of life and it takes the pressure off. Yes of course, there is an ultimate finished product, like a concert for example to equate with our musical definition, but we understand that there is a process of refinement and that is OK, accepted, expected. Apply it elsewhere in life and accept the pitfalls as learning, the missed notes as the perfected ones in the long run. Enjoy the ride, laugh through it and make interesting deviations, be music makers of life - maybe try putting on some music and reflect on how it came to be - through trial and error, persistence, collaboration, love and passion - that doesn’t just reside in music you know, it’s life.
So give life a go, the creative way, and enjoy…