Recently thoughts about about loss began to rise from within...
I have lived life, I imagine, like most of us.
Periods of expansion.
Periods of contraction.
Somewhere along my timeline,
I began to look at my life in chapters.
Looking back, each chapter took on a clear form of
beginning, duration and end.
Some of them I couldn't wait to end.
Some I hoped would never end.
When I lived within any one of these chapters,
rarely did I see the end coming.
In each case, when the end came, I found myself thrust into a new chapter, for which I was ill prepared.
Sometimes I love it.
Sometimes I dread it.
What comes next?
What could have been?
Did I bring this about?
Could I have avoided this?
Then, somewhere down this timeline a ways, having looked at enough chapters to stumble upon certain trends, I learned this.
Even my most devastating loss has brought with it, new birth.
The end of one chapter is the beginning of a new one,
each with its own happiness, surprises, glories,
headaches, laughter and tears.
In a way for which I have no words, there have been emotions and experiences specific to a given chapter and that chapter alone.
In others, these elements were shared.
Devastating end brought about astonishing new pleasure
painted with a brush that I was not aware was in my possession let alone how to use it.
Happy chapters were followed by serious chapters
were followed by successful chapters
followed by challenging chapters
followed by ecstatic chapters
followed by painful chapters.
With the clear eye of an observer, free from emotions that wrapped around each chapter close as swaddling clothes upon a babe,
Gratitude began to emerge.
When I realized that, in all of these chapters,
I played a vital part,
experiencing all of these episodes of humanity
and the spectrum of it all.
In some chapters I was a hero.
In some I was a schlump.
In some I was fulfilled.
Some I chased fulfillment in vain.
Happiness abounded in many chapters.
Loneliness and disappointment filled others.
Growth was present in all.
The gamut of my humanity.
Could I have appreciated one without the other?
I know that I wanted to.
Then I recalled a story that Quincy Jones shared with me about a time, earlier in his life, when he held a deep desire to study composition with Nadia Boulanger, the revered French composer and teacher who taught many of the great composers of the twentieth century, including Quincy himself.
When he met her for the first time, she asked a question so many master teachers ask their prospective students.
"Why are you here?
"What do you want?"
Quincy answered, "I want to be free to compose whatever I want, in whatever way that pleases me."
Madame Boulanger countered, "Well then, if you wish to be free, you must first totally restrict yourself, so you might understand what freedom is."
This seminal statement brought about an astonishing illumination within me that has remained steadfast from the moment I heard it leave Quincy's lips.
I have come to appreciate that I am grateful for every chapter, for within each lies a motif, playing its formative role in this composition of my life.
For it all:
I am grateful.