Category: Music

Suddenly the Slowness

Listening to the Adagio movement of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No.2 is like taking a deep breath while standing out under the hundreds of stars in a crisp winter evening. Being nowhere and yet everywhere, feeling nothing in particular and yet everything. Imagining the potential, dormant life, the what-ifs feeling as if they are had-beens. Tangible phantoms dancing in your head, in front of your eyes, inhaled in. Slowly.

And knowing, really knowing, that everything is right. Slowly, the suddenness sinks in.

21 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
23 He brings princes to naught
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
24 No sooner are they planted,
no sooner are they sown,
no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.

25 “To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.

-Isaiah 40:21-26


Swan Song

Schubert’s Serenade (D 957, No. 4 Standchen). I first heard this piece on the soundtrack of the movie “The Young Victoria.”

This is one of the many variations on the theme in the movie by composer Ilan Eshkeri:

This is another of my favorites from the movie’s soundtrack:


Rachmaninoff is amazing. I have only listened to a bit of his music (just his piano Prelude in C Minor), but  just recently I listened to one of his symphonies. His  Symphony No. 2 is absolutely enthralling, emotionally engaging, and completely… completely….completely something. I am not at all sure how to describe it. It is simultaneously bitter yet sweet, gloomy yet hopeful.  Something like dark chaos morphing into harmoniously melodic freedom. The Largo and Adagio are my favorites. I must listen to more of this Rachmaninoff person’s works…

Here is a YouTube video of the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchesta’s performance of the Largo movement from Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2:


How is it that every time I complain about being busy, someone older than I inevitably says that life only gets busier. Like it can. Right now, I am doing well to be able to get in three meals a day, six hours of sleep, and keep up with all of my school, work, and student organizations. I have an average of three or four hours a day to myself, but they really are not mine, because each of them must be spent in some form of work or study. Dullness at its finest.

What is this dulling busyness, and how can one get rid of it? I know I am not alone in being busy, but it often seems like I am the only one who has to pass up a fun dinner with a friend, or a weekend get-away, or the movie that everyone else has watched. I keep telling myself that it is worth it, that delayed gratification is better than instant gratification. But, if it is true that life never slows its continually accelerating pace, when will I have time to get that “gratification?”

Grades are important, and landing a job is important, and maintaining a healthy body is important, and maintaining community life is important, and making money is important…but when do we get time to live? Isn’t that the most important? I suppose all the aspects of life just mentioned are necessary, but they are merely aspects of life, which, when balanced out, are supposed to form a whole. Without the very necessary aspect of living, they will never amount to a life. You can’t have life without the living.

As a college student, it seems that life wants to pull me in a hundred directions at once, but somehow, I never head in a direction when I am allowing only the demands to direct me. Today I woke up at 6:30 AM, worked one job for two hours, had a class, went back to work for another two hours, then worked at another job for an hour, had class, then came back to my room and worked at my job assignment for another hour and a half, left for a class/campus organization meeting, came back, and finished my silly work project after another two hours. Yes, I got some things done. But did I live? What do I have to show for this day besides a few conversations, some completed assignments, and the consumption of a pumpkin muffin or two?

As I was bemoaning my fated life of busyness this evening, and thinking about just how dull my day had been, I put in a Mozart recording. As I was listening to Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.23,    I suddenly became alive again. Just like I did late that night last December as I gazed out at the moonlight dazzling over the shadow-filled snow fields. Just like I did when I ran barefoot over the spongy green moss by the creek stones. When I watch the capricious interplays of light in the sun’s heavenly farewells; when I forget to breathe.

 Breath! How wonderful it is! Each respiration a miracle. Tiny sections of life, tiny lives in a section. Isn’t that how I feel? Tiny lives in a section, but no real Life? No real Life that is, until I am caught up in something that is able to shake me outside myself and wake me up to the beauty and life that is all around me.  Not until I am able to lose my life to find it in the One who calls Himself the Life. Thank God for His Creation, Beauty that reminds me who He is and who I am.  John Piper says in his book Don’t Waste Your Life,

“The really wonderful moments of joy in this world are not the moments of self-satisfaction, but self-forgetfulness. Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and contemplating your own greatness is pathological. At such moments we are made for a magnificent joy that comes from outside ourselves. And each of those rare and precious moments in life – beside the Canyon, before the Alps, under the stars – is an echo of a far greater excellence, namely, the glory of God.”

After all, you can’t have living without The Life.

Dull? Life isn’t dull…unless it’s not lived.