“mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix” from the opera “Samson et Dalila” by Camille Saint-Saens. Interpretation for flute and orchestra.
Because the sun shone through my open window, the trees outside swayed in the soft breeze and the melody (as well as the meaning) felt just right.
And the second song is
Ever Dream by Nightwish
because Tarja Turunen’s beautiful voice at a volume just below my pain threshold proved to be an adequate acoustic shield for an environment like an underground train packed beyond capacity and a video games convention full of people. (But the lyrics, as I (mis)understand them, are quite nonsensical. I have to look them up sometime to stop wondering what she is singing).
Introducing this topic, I will use it as a short form of something diary-like.
I do not want to write about each mundane day in detail and I define feelings to a large extent by images or music so I will post the song I listen to repeatedly each day. I usually do not choose them consciously but just end up rewinding them again and again on my MP3-player. Sometimes it might be two songs but rarely more.
If I know why I keep on listening to this particular song on this particular day, I will add that as well – but sometimes I just don’t.
Today’s song is:
Bach’s Harpsichord Concerto No. 7
because it accompanied me on my first trip through the streets of London since I left in June and its energetic yet calming theme was a perfect match for my mood.
The second song for today is:
The theme from the film “Good Bye, Lenin!” by Yann Tiersen, Summer 78
because being alone in my room watching the light fade I felt somewhat anxious and alone but not really sad and this melody picked this quiet melancholy up very well.
The death of Neil Armstrong led me to a topic I haven’t thought about before: sadness.
Although I have neither witnessed the moon landing on TV nor have I held any special interest in his person I felt very sad upon hearing the news that he died yesterday. Just for the symbolic meaning he had for me by being someone who brought space within our reach. I seem to be very susceptible to “great” tragedies but less so to actual empathetic pain. I am more stirred to tears by scenes of betrayal, sacrifice and loss of intellectual/cultural treasures than by witnessing personal loss (by someone I don’t know).
Sadness is one of these emotions that I have to look at for a while to understand what it is that I am feeling. I have difficulties differentiating very strong emotions. They rush over me and I have to wait until the strongest flux is over to be able to understand what it actually was. Before that it is just positive or negative. I still have trouble to tell anger and sadness apart. If I cry, it is sadness but I’m not sure how to categorise them if I don’t cry. But there will be more on that in the next post.
Reflecting about death, the cause for my sadness is usually not personal loss in any way but the extinction of life. If I see an animal by the side of the road that has been hit by a car I can mourn for days simply because it died. Whenever I am confronted with a situation like this, I have to shield myself from thinking about all the other (animal) lives which are extinguished every second – I exclude natural cycles of prey/predators in this because that is meant to be, but human causes do not count as “natural prey/predator cycle” except if the animal was hunted for meat or other life keeping purposes – because I would carry myself into mourning for all of them and there would probably be no end to that.
My empathy for animals is far greater than that for humans. I can only speculate that this is because I attribute the capability of governing ones own fate to human beings – within limits – and because I relate to animals usually on a more instinctive and emotional level and to humans (if at all) on a rational and cognitive level. When I am confronted by human suffering I start analysing the causes, the symptoms, the connections. If I see an animal suffering, I just empathise. I feel its pain, fear and confusion.
Exempt from this are people that mean something to me. I relate to them on an emotional level but I am unable to extend this relation to others although I know that they, too, have children, parents or friends that can feel loss and pain as I do.
Today I found a good example for this differentiation between empathy towards humans and empathy towards animals. There were two small articles in our newspaper. The first one was a report about a construction worker who had been killed because the counterweight concrete blocks of a construction crane fell on top of him. My first thoughts were about what malfunction might have caused this and how this incident would be handled by the company or insurances. The second article described that an animal owner found out that someone had sneaked into their garden at night to cut off their rabbits’ ears. I felt so angry and hurt. In this situations I wish for some counterbalancing force of justice that sees to restore equity. But I know that is not so. Probably.
Maybe their energy will be transferred to a less hospitable place in the universe once they died.