by Kari Miller Magg
I confess – I haven’t been feeling much like practicing lately. This happens to me every year about now. As predictably as some people might catch that first winter cold or get an allergy attack, I catch ‘garden fever’. Except this year it’s even worse than usual; this year I have a full-blown case of ‘garden euphoria.’ It’s all the fault of those 600 tulips – you know, the bulbs
I planted way back in October. Hidden all winter under the cold snow, they developed and grew and now they are in full, glorious bloom. All I want to do is go outdoors, amble around, feel the sun on my face, and look at the tulips and all the other growing things.
Is it silly to get so much pleasure from such a simple thing? I hope not, but I know I might have trou- ble explaining it to some; I might have trouble convincing them that such beauty is its own reward. Those tulips aren’t offering me any tangible, measurable benefits – no money, no career advancement, no relief for the pain in my right knee. They aren’t doing anything to solve the world’s problems of poverty, prejudice and poor pitch. They aren’t even going to last a whole lot longer at this point. Yet those tulips do make me very happy, so happy that I would be a fool not to give in and let myself enjoy them while I can.
My neighbors and other passersby seem to be of the same mind. A young mother who lives across the street shyly asked me if she could photograph her six-month-old baby in front of the flowers. Nearly everyone slows down and lingers or comments as they go by. Yet if asked what things are necessary for happiness, most people would not put flowers at the top of the list.
Most would probably make a list of big, ‘important’ things, forgetting that some of our most intense moments of joy can come from small, unexpected, even mundane things. These moments are to be cherished when and wherever they come.
I really am talking about my tulips – check out the pictures! But we can carry the thought into the musical realm as we consider how we value our musical achievements. Our art may be fleeting, inconsequential in the grand scheme of things; but we should never question its worth – a lovely piece of music or a heartfelt performance needs no more justi- fication than does a bed of tulips. And while an hour spent communing with great music won’t change the world, won’t answer all your questions or solve your problems, still, it can sometimes feel like com- ing down in ‘the place just right.’