Friday, November 27, 2015

The universe next door

I am re-emerging from what has almost been a 3-month hiatus to post on this blog once more, to lay down my thoughts on a familiar space and to understand them in that way.

This is my 9th week of being a college student and my first quarter at UChicago has introduced a new and exciting rhythm into the music of my life that has shifted my pulse by several beats. There have been very few pauses along the way - I have been tapping my feet to the myriad variations on a theme that relentlessly weave new notes into my every waking day, filling them with endless sequences of quick quavers and rich chords. 

Music streams at me from all directions (quite literally, given 2.5 hour chamber orchestra rehearsals each week, swing dances every Saturday and 'non-stop' Hamilton-streaming-sessions at night) and I find myself not wanting to turn down the volume. Having spent huge chunks of my writing life trying to express myself via musical metaphors, I suppose I should give the following summation in the simplest terms possible: I have been so busy. 

Since getting here, I have been continually inspired but have found it terribly difficult to keep writing because I find that I can only effectively turn certain ideas into poetry once they have simmered down and can be regarded in retrospect. At that point, they grow quieter, clearer, and wait on the brinks of memory so that I can lay them down as words on a page. 

But so much has been happening at once that every event I attend, new taste I acquire, book I read, dance move I learn, building I explore and much more surge at me with a collective power, like the kinetic rush of particles in a heated space. It has been hard to find time to give each of these particles their equal weight; all that I most strongly register is the energy they produce, a force that almost seems to lift me off my feet. The music is always reaching a crescendo and my earphones are always plugged in.  

Last night, however, I felt a change in tempo. A caesura, a grand pause, a break. As I lay in bed alone before going to sleep (my roommate has gone to see relatives so our double is now a single, a 'dingle'), I experienced the extraordinarily familiar sensation of being home - home as in on my bed in Hong Kong. Here I am, thousands of miles away, feeling almost exactly as I would in a completely different context. Is this what it means to have finally 'settled in?' When the musical themes of your past and present unite? 

Today is Thanksgiving Day, and the first time I have ever celebrated this holiday in my life. There is so much I am thankful for this year and the list is ever-growing. I am thankful for all the family and friends I have, the beautiful campus on which I live, the classes I attend and the books I get to read. I am thankful for the colours of autumn, leaves at my feet and snowfall. I am thankful for all the new melodies in my life.

Yet I am also thankful for the pauses, the rests, the times at which my music fades to a pianissimo. These are the sacred parts in an orchestral score where the violinists get to put down their instruments for a while, turn the page and wait. I'm looking forward to hearing how this piece will grow - for I know I will grow along with it.