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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

In Deference To

We started out somewhat clumsily. I was playing in a rhythm I was used to, with a triad of chords in the left hand accompanying the soprano and alto voices in the right. He was fussing around with the bass, trying to feel the rhythm of the song and match it to my style. I wasn't used to having an instrument play along with me, so I marched militantly through the introduction and verses and then stopped.

Music! he insisted. I looked at him, confused. I had played the song and now it was time to move on to the next. When we actually play for song service, then we'll play the intro, first and second verses, etc. he said. But for now, I need to get into the mood of the music. Ah, that made sense to me. He needed to feel the song so it would flow smoothly.

It didn't happen right away. As a matter of fact, it was only after we'd played through all four songs and then repeated a couple of them again, that the notes started to line up. At first, it had seemed more like a struggle between the two instruments. Me, somewhat timid and insecure in my ability, with the piano trundling along. He, confident in his skill yet frustrated as he struggled to sync and create the ambience he knew was possible.

Then I stopped trying to play the rhythm I was used to and instead shifted more towards simple chords, allowing the bass to fill in the empty spaces. I began to listen to its sound rather than assume it should listen and adapt to me. At the same time, he was adjusting to my tempo and figuring out complementary notes that created harmony. Dissonance had turned into beauty.

This is how life is, isn't it? We meet people and at first we expect them to fit into our lives and our way of thinking. We know exactly how they should act but are surprised to learn that they have their own distinct way of relating to life. At first we may find ourselves clashing, frustrated because the song isn't harmonizing instantly.

Then, after spending time together, learning to accept the other person's way of viewing the world, we begin to adjust. Each of us tweaks our sails just a little til we sail side by side into the wind instead of crashing into each other. We learn to sing the song as we lean into the music. It is only then that we hear the beautiful melody soar with its counterpart.

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