Monday, May 25, 2009
Creative Frequencies - The Gift Of Art In Our Highs & Lows
Life is lived at a certain pitch. There is a familiar set of relational sounds, a mid-range emotional frequency matched with an interaction equilibrium of sorts that is more or less maintained throughout the general ether of life. Most of what we experience emotionally is adequately felt and communicated through the conversations and interactions found in our personal world.
But from time to time, or perhaps season to season, the emotional frequency/tuning of our lives can hit a range that is more extreme than the usual mid-spectrum range of our work-a-day lives. We experience the heady thrill of falling in love, have a spiritual encounter which fills our souls with golden joy, or arrive at the giddying heights of a long-sought triumph. The high-pitched hot notes of this emotional frequency are not easily conveyed to those around us, and we fumble with the limits of language to try and share what is happening.
At the other end of the spectrum, sorrow and heartache can take us into that chilling emotional range where pain is sharp, and internal conflicts ominously threaten our norm-neutral living space. Adding to the hue of grief that colours this sub-zero emotional region is the isolation that comes with being tuned to a frequency of feelings that are ‘out-of-range’ for normal conversations and interactions.
It is intrinsically human to want to share our highs and lows, and to connect emotionally through the roller coaster of life. Yet, how strangely difficult it is to communicate with others during our highest highs and our lowest lows, even with those whom we love like our own selves.
There is an ancient proverb, which says, 'Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy', which is not an exhortation to give up communicating (!) but perhaps a recognition that there is an eternal dimension and capacity for sublime fullness of experience built into us as human beings. The extreme experiential frequencies we are capable of feeling seem to remind us of the existence of the Divine in our own creation, and to remind us to honour the mystery and dignity of each uniquely formed soul. If our experience of life on this earth can be felt on a broader spectrum than can be adequately conveyed to our fellows, it seems as another clue to me that 'we were made for another world', an idea that the great thinker C.S. Lewis explored in his writings.
How wonderful is the gift of art and creativity within this dynamic! Art is so often created from these ‘extra-terrestrial’ emotional frequencies and carries the tone of an experience that is more easily sensed than explained, better ‘caught’ than taught. A song written from one who knows heartache can find you and carry you when your own sorrows pull you from the normal regions of interaction. When joy is beating in your soul, such release can be found in finding the song with a beat that makes you soar, turning it up full volume and dancing the night away in your own kitchen!
Music and painting, poetry and dance are all art forms that seem to be sublimely equipped to grapple with the emotional extremes of our experiences, more effective often than explanations and conversations. Why else do we dedicate songs to our friends, write poetry for our loved ones, paint rather than describe the image we see in our minds eye? Why does going to a music concert with friends feel in many ways like a spiritual encounter, like we are all united and caught up into something greater than ourselves?
In all these ways art is capturing and communicating what words alone cannot. To experience extreme emotional frequencies is the terrain of every human soul. To capture something of that experience in such a way that your fellows can join with you, is the joy of the artist.