Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day 271: Corner View: Bliss

I actually had to look up "bliss" in the dictionary.  Sad, really.  I knew that it meant being really happy--but the way it's used implies something more, almost nirvana perhaps.  People say "blissfully happy," which then would mean being really happy happy.  And that made my head hurt!

But that's what Merriam says--that it means to be extremely happy--and Merriam is never wrong.  Frankly, I can't really recall being so happy it counts as being blissfully so.  There are times when I'm contented, or when I'm happy, certainly.  There are things that I enjoy.  But bliss?  Not sure.

But then my friend Merriam says it also means heaven or paradise.  So maybe when people say they are blissfully happy, they are really saying that they are so happy they feel transported to heaven?  Hmn.

Either way, I'm not sure I know what this bliss thing is all about.  I try to be cheerful and enjoy things, but bliss?  Hmn.  Probably what brings me closest to bliss is when I'm conducting a choir.  It's something I used to do, and haven't done in a long time.  I miss it.  I tried conducting church choirs when asked to do so, but it just wasn't the same.  Trying to direct a church choir, where only about three people were entirely committed to attending, was a lesson in frustration.  But put me in front of a community choir, or guest conducting, or even a church choir that actually has people that want to be there--and I'm in heaven.  I love the energy.  I love the connection with the singers.  I love everyone breathing together--the feeling of being one entity.  And I love being able to craft beautiful music from the human voice.

The next best thing to this is going to a live symphony (without my children--so again, this hasn't happened in a long time!), sitting in the dark, and watching the conductor.  I don't watch the musicians much, and I don't close my eyes and let the music wash over me.  I watch the conductor and how he coaxes and pulls and creates music through the mesmerizing movements of his arms and hands.   

I've been fascinated with conducting ever since I was a young girl.  On the ferry on the way to church one Sunday, I asked my mom to teach me the patterns that were used to direct the congregational hymns.  So there we sat while she taught me how to draw 4/4, 3/4, and 2/4 in the air, and I'll never forget that moment.  It was like someone had suddenly found and given me the puzzle pieces to a favorite puzzle that I didn't even know I had lost.  Something took root in my soul.  I conducted everything I heard.  The frustrating thing was that I was so shy in high school that nobody, not even my band teacher, knew I was a secret Shaw.  So whenever he had a student conductor if he couldn't be there, it was always someone else.  And I KNEW that it was something that I should be doing instead!  It was the same in college, where I was finally able to take some conducting classes.  Although I had top grades in those classes, I flew under the radar and once again, although I really, really wanted to be the section leader--if not the assistant director--it always went to someone else. It wasn't an auditioned position, and I was just too dern forgettable otherwise.

But then school was over.  I returned home.  And one of the first things I did was put an ad in the newspaper advertising the formation of a community choir.  We had six intrepid women attend.  My mom accompanied.  And the LDCC was born.  Our first concert?  Busy.  Stressful.


The choir grew.  We sang at music festivals.  And won.


I moved away after a little less than three years.  The choir had grown to about 25 people by that point.  I left it under the hands of a different director and hoped it would continue.  It did.  When I went back two years ago, ten years after it was formed, and was able to attend a rehearsal, there were well into 40 singers in attendance.  They were singing all over the place.  They have become a fixture in that small, British Columbia logging town.

And it was a blissful feeling.

Other than conducting a large-ish church choir in Vancouver twice a year before moving here, nothing has compared to it.

Conducting is like my soul's breath, and it hasn't been getting much in the way of air lately.  I'm a plant without sunshine, and I'm getting all shrively and wizened inside.  It has been a gradual thing, but I feel it more and more as the years go by, and although I've tried to fill that gap by doing other crafty, artistic things (scrapbooking, photography, blogging), they just don't make me come alive the same way.  I wouldn't say I'm sad really, or not cheerful, and I wouldn't even say I'm unhappy.  There's just something missing, that's all.

So--anyone out there want to sing in a choir? 

If not, maybe chocolate would help. 



Now heading over to Jane's for more blissful corner views.

1 comment:

kathryn said...

Aw, honey! WHY aren't you DOING something about this?? It's so rare to be able to identify something in life that can bring you such a rare, enviable simply MUST pursue this....somehow!