Not long ago I shared a poem inspired by the remarkable 2016 concert featuring Amos Lee along with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra (Feeling The Photons). The evening was a glorious experience and one which did not cease at the end of the performance. In fact, the experience continues to this day for me.
My wife and I were bidding farewell to the friends who had joined us when a mystical moment occurred. I turned to my friend Rachel and said, “I hope you had a good time.” Her response paired with a smile to create something extraordinary. As I looked at her, everything around us fractured and all background crumbled away from view. There was nothing but her and, most prominently, the smile. One of the most calm, content feelings I have known washed over me. The image remains vivid in my mind, yet words to describe the experience are hard to find. This is the best I can do to convey what occurred to cap off an evening deeply etched in my memory.
It took a while for me to see the tremendous value in the practice of yoga. A lack of understanding led to a complete dismissal without even trying a class. Truthfully, the lack of understanding translated into a bit of fear and, therefore, a decision yoga would not be beneficial. Once I finally did agree to try a yoga class with my wife, the first encounter further tainted my opinion. The best way I can describe the experience is that the class was led by a spiritual whack-a-doodle. I just didn’t get it, or maybe that particular moment was not the time for me to start a yoga practice.
Then came a point in my workout routine where a change was needed. Something new was necessary to remain active but not be so demanding of my body. I decided to give yoga another try, and the second experience was very different. Yoga has since become a regular part of my workout routine. The physical, mental and spiritual benefits are far too many to list here.
After reading the remainder of this introduction and the poem, there will likely be those who think I have become the spiritual whack-a-doodle. Regardless, here we go.
There were only two of us who came to my favorite class one evening. The other person was far across the room and it felt nice to have a lot of open space around me. At the beginning of the session we were in a simple standing pose with the purpose of just “arriving on the mat”. We held a tall posture with shoulders back, palms facing forward and eyes closed. It was a moment of calm as we concentrated on long, deep, controlled breathing in an effort to shut out everything and just be present. As tension trickled out of my body, senses heightened and a recognition came that someone was standing very close by to my right. My eyes fluttered open slightly but remained gazing straight ahead. In my peripheral vision I could see the other person in class had not moved closer, so I turned my gaze to the right. Indeed someone was standing there, but he was somewhat out of focus.
It took a few days, but I did eventually recognize the guy standing to my right. Did anyone else in the class see him? Probably not. But there is no doubt I saw him.
The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s second annual INfusion Music Festival took place this past May. One of the festival concerts was very different from the usual live symphony experience. The first half presented Liquid Interface, a composition by Mason Bates. It blends the orchestra and electronic sounds with shifts between the two occurring seamlessly. Liquid Interface is described by the composer as “a piece inspired by water in its variety of forms, inhabiting an increasingly hotter world in each progressive movement.” It was fascinating how the sounds of the live orchestra and synthesized elements created flowing streams and dripping water. The air felt as if it was cooled with the evaporation of sound.
The second half was an equally amazing experience, combining the powerful lyrics and vocal talent of Amos Lee with the full Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. At times the orchestra provided a beautiful lush backdrop; while other times the orchestra added a power and richness to Amos Lee’s performance that was transporting.
This was another case of a mesmerizing live musical performance triggering my creative flow and I had to capture the words as soon as possible. Typically, I would reach for my phone to make a few notes, but there was no way to do that during the concert without being disruptive. So, as soon as the final song ended and everyone leapt to their feet in a standing ovation, thumbs flew into action creating a stream of text messages to myself. A great deal was captured in that moment, and once I was home, the poem was put on paper in one rapid-fire release. Some of the lines I do not yet understand, but nothing was filtered out as words poured onto the paper. No doubt Liquid Interface, Amos Lee and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra filtered through my mind and spirit that evening to allow creation of a “River of Light”.
Is death an ending or a beginning? Is it one big event or something small occurring periodically and often? Is dying a time of sorrow, or a time of healing? Maybe, death is all of these things collectively.
These are the kinds of questions I have pondered in deep conversation with a friend who is like no other in my life. In fact, I refer to her as my spirit sibling. During our discussions, every part of my being is engaged, with hours and hours easily passing. There is no judgement and no fear. Minds are open and debate draws out Truth (yes, with a capital ‘T’). Our dialogue can be exhausting and exhilarating simultaneously, and magical things come out of them like this poem.
I knew sharing this poem was right one afternoon while listening to the band Hammock and their album Oblivion Hymns. The final track, “Tres Dominé”, is possibly the most hope-filled and uplifting song I have ever heard. Ironically, in an interview about the album, the band stated the collection of songs is about saying goodbye. Hmmm…..is death uplifting? Check out “Tres Dominé” here.