The Whole Song
I imagine life like a song with 100 verses. Unfortunately, none of us can remember more than 80 or 90 of the verses. It is a beautiful song, but forever incomplete in our minds. What’s more, the verses we remember are never entirely sequential, and so some make more sense than others. Some verses, in fact, in being disconnected from their conjoining verses, seem to make no sense at all – just a lot of lovely sound and fury. Like all songs, we cannot quite make new what we have forgotten. Songs have an integrity all their own, an integrity born through the imagination of its author that can never be wholly replicated any more than the author himself could be replicated. And so the verses we write ourselves for the song we have forgotten are both inadequate and yet the source of great pride, for these lines are ours and ours alone.
Better to sing the verses you know as honestly and completely as possible. In this way, those who have forgotten what you can remember will have the opportunity to hear again what they require. Of course, the song will be in your voice, not theirs, and so it will take some faith on their part that it is our song and not merely your song. No matter. It is not your job to prove what you already know; the song is proof in itself.
And just as you sing so must you listen. The song, after all, is known completely, but through a multitude of minds and sung in a multitude of voices. If you should decide you wish to know it all, listen. Some verses you will have to hear again and again and again before you recognize what you are hearing. Other verses you will declare inauthentic, for you may have tried to finish the song in your own mind, and you are protective of your solutions and creations and you believe the authentic verse somehow renders the song incomprehensible.
Most of all, however, trust is required that the song is already complete. Without this trust, the world will seem forever inadequate. I doubt I will ever be able to sing the song in its entirety, but I am certain I have heard it. I could not hear it, however, until I understood it was already being sung. Until that time, life was governed by capricious tides of harmony and dissonance. After, what had appeared ugly became beautiful, the transformation as instantaneous and miraculous as thought.
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