VIBRATIONS OF LIFE REQUIRE MORE THAN 140 STROKES
What I have to write about today cannot be written in 140 keystrokes. Experiencing the richness and depth within us, which connects us to the vibration of life that exists in all of us, requires more than the way most people normally communicate in 2014. Not long ago, I received an email that was filled with such beauty that I felt an instant need to stop what keeps me forever busy in my life…and allow the feelings that this message generated in the depths of my soul to remind me of my own connection to the vibrations of life.
The letter I was privileged to have read was written 90 years ago by a deaf and blind woman about an experience she had while listening to music composed 190 years ago. Her letter follows:
I have the joy of being able to tell you that, though deaf and blind, I spent a glorious hour last night listening over the radio to Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony.” I do not mean to say that I “heard” the music in the sense that other people heard it; and I do not know whether I can make you understand how it was possible for me to derive pleasure from the symphony. It was a great surprise to myself. I had been reading in my magazine for the blind of the happiness that the radio was bringing to the sightless everywhere. I was delighted to know that the blind had gained a new source of enjoyment; but I did not dream that I could have any part in their joy.
Last night, when the family was listening to your wonderful rendering of the immortal symphony someone suggested that I put my hand on the receiver and see if I could get any of the vibrations. He unscrewed the cap, and I lightly touched the sensitive diaphragm. What was my amazement to discover that I could feel not only the vibration, but also, the impassioned rhythm, the throb and the urge of the music! The intertwined and intermingling vibrations from different instruments enchanted me. I could actually distinguish the cornets, the roll of the drums, deep-toned violas and violins singing in exquisite unison. How the lovely speech of the violins flowed and plowed over the deepest tones of the other instruments!
When the human voices leaped up thrilling from the surge of harmony, I recognized them instantly as voices more ecstatic, up-curving swift and flame-like, until my heart almost stood still. The women’s voices seemed an embodiment of all the angelic voices rushing in a harmonious flood of beautiful and inspiring sound. The great chorus throbbed against my fingers with poignant pause and flow. Then all the instruments and voices together burst forth – an ocean of heavenly vibration – and died away like winds when the atom is spent, ending in a delicate shower of sweet notes.
Of course this was not “hearing,” but I do know that the tones and harmonies conveyed to me moods of great beauty and majesty. I also sense, or thought I did, the tender sounds of nature that sing into my hand-swaying reeds and winds and the murmur of streams. I have never been so enraptured before by a multitude of tone-vibrations.
As I listened, with darkness and melody, shadow and sound filling all the room, I could not help remembering that the great composer who poured forth such a flood of sweetness into the world was deaf like myself. I marveled at the power of his quenchless spirit by which out of his pain he wrought such joy for others – and there I sat, feeling with my hand the magnificent symphony which broke like a sea upon the silent shores of his soul and mine.”
The Auricle, Vol. II, No. 6, March 1924. American Foundation for the Blind, Helen Keller Archives.
As I am writing these words, I am listening to the overpoweringly enthralling music that is now connecting my essence with the wonder of Helen Keller in 1924 and that of Ludwig Van Beethoven in 1824. In some profound, mystical way, the three of us are flowing as one in our spirits through the vibration of life that flows beyond time from the heart and soul of a man into the hands and heart of a woman and into my own ears and heart in this moment. These moments we give to ourselves, every now and then, can remind us of the deepest of truths…we are not separate…we are a part of a glorious choir that has been singing through all of souls into all of the hearts and into the chorus of humanity throughout the ages.
We Are Not Separate.
Helen and Ludwig were deaf and yet, they were able to hear by feeling what was inside them and sharing it with what was outside them. They understood the infinite connection they had with all things. While they could not hear but could listen to what was inside and outside, far too many of us are able to hear and yet, be far more deaf to the vibrations of life than either of these two magnificent beings. We have a choice… to feel the life that vibrates within us or we can turn a deaf ear to the magnificence that calls out to us in every moment of our lives. We can choose to recognize the chorus that rings out the sound that we are not separate, or we can become deaf to the truth and believe in separation for all the reasons we give ourselves to accept deafness. The sound of separation is violent, painful, and ultimately destructive.
Listening while Hearing
I love you can be 8 letters, 10 stokes on a key pad or two words spoken in haste and heard without connection…or they can listened to in a way that we can hear how those words filled with the chorus of our hearts as we speak and as we listen. What we allow ourselves to hear is our choice.
My sweet Jenny, my 16-year-old Lhasa, is resting at my feet as these words are forming themselves on my computer. I mourned the loss when it became clear she is nearly completely deaf. I wondered if I told her enough that I love her so she could in some way still hear my voice that is now silent to her. But today, after reading this most powerful letter from Helen Keller, I realized that Jenny can still hear me through the vibration of my soul, through the caring that flows from my fingers when I touch her, and through the love that flows from my eyes when I look into hers.Our digitized world-culture has the power to bring us the majesty of Beethoven’s symphony and, as it did today the beauty of an email from a very dear being on this planet who shared with me Helen Keller’s letter…And…it has the power to cause us to only tap on the surface of our lives, in 30 words of less, never allowing the simple contacts to lead to the depth of richness and beauty that is available in life. Which one of these ways of relating to the digital world we select is our choice, as well.
When we take the time to make deep connection with those in our lives because we have found the pathway to make deep connection with ourselves, we can feel the vibrations of the spoken and the unspoken, we can hear the sounds of silence and the cacophony and harmonies that surround us every moment.
If you have never listened to Beethoven’s symphonies, perhaps, beginning with the 9th, give yourself a gift of the experience and discover something of yourself as you allow yourself to open to the vibrations within the music that can touch the all too-often silenced music inside yourself. If you have listened to this, but not in a long time, let your spirit re-experience the joy of being human when you feel it being played inside you. In this very moment of synchronous majesty, my heart is being filled with Movement IV- Ode to Joy. And Jenny is, in her way, hearing the majesty, as well.
Helen Keller Touching President Eisenhower’s Face
As a part of the chorus of humanity that exists in timeless time, allow yourself to reconnect with the experience of life as Helen Keller and Ludwig Von Beethoven did; discover what is your song, no matter what may be happening in your life as you read these words.
Look at all that is in the outer world. There are things that are both light and dark, beautiful and horrifying, sweet and bitter. Too often we reach out to what is painful that causes us to recoil or withdraw from life, or we deny what is painful, dark and horrifying and pretend that there is only good. When we do not allow ourselves to understand that both exist, we do not experience making a choice of what we reach out to touch, and with this disconnection from choice, comes a loss of depth and richness. With choice you can decide to let go of reaching for what does you harm. When you decide what in the outer world is worthy of your touch, you can let yourself reach out to it with the awe that Helen Keller wrote about when her hand touched the receiver and her inner world was filled with the feeling of exquisite ecstasy carried through 100 years of time and into her life. Truly being alive goes deeply into the interior of ourselves and cannot be expressed in 140 strokes on a keypad.
Sandy Sela-Smith, PhD. Conifer, Colorado