Listen to the Birds
It’s Saturday morning. I awoke in the usual manner, with a dry mouth needing water, pain in my shoulders from nagging bursitis, and my doggie doing her “I need to go outside” dance. This is not going to be a typical Saturday morning. Instead of going to synagogue for Shabbat services with our friends and congregants, my wife and I will be undertaking a large project – cleaning the house. So, as I am out walking my doggie, my mind is engaged in thoughts of cleaning out the fireplace, throwing out junk mail, scrubbing, dusting, well, you get the picture. Not exactly spiritual work but required nonetheless, especially when we will be having my brother and sister-in-law visiting us next week.
Suddenly, while walking the doggie, I hear a sound. A high-pitched sound with a definite rhythm. Wait, there is it again. And again. I focus on the sound. It’s coming from above, somewhere in the trees. Then another sound, a pleasing sound. Thoughts of the chores of the day begin to leave my conscious mind, being replaced by the joyous music of the birds around me. I can’t see a single one of them as I gaze up to the trees. But their music has found me. I know that their songs are there on other mornings but I don’t always pay attention to it.
As a musician, I have grown up playing music and learning to appreciate it from a technical standpoint as well as an artistic one. Being analytical, sometimes the technical side stifles the artistic side. Instead of enjoying the sound, I determine its meter, the key, the changes in time, the ability of the group to recognize phrasing and changes in dynamics. I remember during my first hospital stay for depression when a group of us were listening to Elvis Presley music as part of our therapy. I’m not exactly sure how that was supposed to help me but all I could think about was the percussion beat, the bass line, the repetitive nature of the song. If I was supposed to appreciate the artistry, well, it escaped me.
At first, I was doing the same thing with the bird songs. I heard the rhythms. This bird usually sang four chirps in a row, then stopped, then repeated them. This other bird was singing two at a time. There were quarter notes, eighth notes, different pitches. Then I stopped my thought pattern. I decided to just listen and not dissect it. I stood there and just let the music in. Rather than hearing one at a time, the various and unique songs from above became a symphony of sound. I closed my eyes and imagined the finest musicians playing their individual parts as members of a unified whole whose mission was to create beautiful music. It was a wonderful experience of the beauty of nature.
The concert is there every day. Admission is free. All I have to do is open the door, open my ears, open my mind, open my soul. Forget about the coming day for a minute or two. The tasks and chores will still be there. The weekday commute to work will still be there. The politics of organizations will still be there.
Do you have a minute or two to spare each day to listen to the songs of the birds? If you are depressed, I recommend you attend the concert and let the music in. If you can’t deal with going outside, open a window and listen. The birds will sing for you. They sing for each and every one of us. All we have to do is listen.
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