Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dorkitude, Exhibit 4932, or, Why I Sometimes Feel Like I Shouldn't Be Allowed Out in Public

I'm not really one to listen to music via earbuds or headphones, at least not outside of an airplane.  I get so into the music that it pushes everything else in my head out of the way. 

Like at work, I might play music at an almost inaudible volume (so as not to disturb the fellow cube-dwellers) just to have it in the background.  But if I put in earbuds, I'll be too easily startled if someone approaches me (which I am anyway -- I get really focused when I work, so someone could creep up making virtually no sound and they'll still scare the shit out of me and cause me to jump out of my chair).  Plus I find it distracting.  So I generally don't do it.

But the other night when I was leaving work, it was a clear, pretty night, if a bit cold, and for whatever reason, I decided that I wanted to listen to some music while I waited for my bus.  Because it was after hours, I had a longer wait than usual.

So I put in Beethoven's Ode to Joy.  Not like it's so original to be a big fan of Ode to Joy, but it's one of my favorite pieces of music, so whatevs. I had been listening to it intermittently throughout the day, so I cued it up to start at the beginning of the 4th (and last) movement.

When I'm really, really into a piece of music, I instinctively close my eyes.  I do this when I sing, too.  Visual stimuli become almost overwhelmingly distracting.  But of course, I can't stand out on a street corner with my eyes closed (for one thing, I'd miss my bus), so from time to time I'll open them, and then without realizing it, close them again a little while later. 

The most famous part of Ode to Joy is the end, the big choral section that carries the musical theme to its huge, explosive conclusion. 

I love that part, but my favorite is the lead-up to the fireworks, which start at about 11 minutes into the 4th movement.*  It's like you're being pulled up a gorgeous mountain to the edge of a cliff, and being held there by strings of gossamer that are like a tease -- will they break?  will they hold up? will you fall? The view is so beautiful, and the feeling of being up so high and swaying on the edge is exquisite, almost orgasmic, because you feel like there's something big coming, but the getting there and the being there is so amazing as well.  And then, with a massive whooosh! the strings break and you do fall off the cliff, but instead of being scary, it's like falling into heaven. 

I'm sure you're all thinking at this point that I'm insane.  Who knows, maybe I am.

And maybe the workload and stress and crazyness and lack of sleep of the past week has made me emotional.  Because when the big chorus started -- the fall off the cliff -- I felt like my heart was going to burst and I started to cry (not hard, but still).  It was just so beautiful.

And that's how I ended up waiting for the bus in the middle of downtown Denver, with the crackheads and the drunks and the guys roaming around offering to sell discounted boxes of cigarettes, crying tears of joy and looking for all the world like a borderline narcoleptic.

I probably need to lay off the earbuds.

* Click here for the entire symphony.  Click on "ninth4b" for the part I've been describing -- it's about 5 1/2 minutes in.  Enjoy.


  1. Anonymous3:13 PM

    beautiful wendy. i think that is beautiful, that you can appreciate something with your whole being. would that there were more of that in this world.

    jen lucas

  2. Aw, thanks Jen! Now if only I could do the appreciating without looking like a total lunatic, I'd be solid!

  3. I get it. I totally get it. And I agree with Jen, it's beautiful when we can enjoy something so completely.
    We spend so much time trudging through life, it's nice to have these moments of light.

  4. Best pop song ever and one of the most beautiful melodies. Nothing to be ashamed of. Beethoven was the first great rock star IMO.

  5. I agree with Jen and Anne. Beautiful post sharing a beautiful experience.

    I know what you mean about closing your eyes. I do the same thing.

    And I just wrote a post, that although not beautiful, relates to the idea of just being in the now and being thoroughly yourself even if you do look like a dork (which I very much doubt you did!).