Tonight, I may or may not go to a summer sing of Brahms Requiem. (Summer sings are things choral people go to, so they can sing their favorite pieces while we’re all on summer break.)
Brahms Requiem is a favorite of mine, as are all requiems. The first time I sang this though, was right after a cat of mine died, and yeah, a cat, but it devastated me. I was singing it again about six months later when my mother died. Usually requiems are redemptive, but because of the timing, this one reminds me of bad things you can’t do anything about, and how some things suck no matter how you look at it.
This reminded me of a piece I wrote which was killed, alas, by the magazine I was writing it for. It was about change. At the end I talk about a time in my life when I was spending most of my time sitting on my couch in a stupor. Something happened that just flattened me. Here’s the part I like:
I would have been thrilled to change and end my suffering, but I didn’t have a clue about how to begin. So I just sat there, trying to watch television, with this ever present ache. Of all things, a TV movie about alien abduction called Taken came on, and the main character said, “We’re all standing on the edge of a cliff. All the time, every day. A cliff we’re all going over. Our choice isn’t about that. Our choice is about whether we want to go kicking and screaming or whether we might want to open our eyes and our hearts to what happens once we start to fall.” For the first time in months, the ache began to subside.
Sometime after my alien-abduction-TV-movie-epiphany, I was watching a rerun of Sex and the City. (I get all my best wisdom from TV, apparently.) At the end, Carrie Bradshaw comments about her imperfect, ever-changing life. “Maybe the best any of us can do is not quit, play the hand we’ve been given, and accessorize the outfit we’ve got.”
It was time to get up off the couch. Don’t quit. Embrace the fall. And wear a nice outfit.
Ever since, whenever I feel bad, I just chant this over and over: don’t quit/embrace the fall, don’t quit/embrace the fall, don’t quit/embrace the fall.
I bring this all up because sometimes it’s hard to tell if singing Brahms Requiem is equivalent to laying on the couch in a stupor, or embracing the fall.