Tag Archives: cognitive dissonance

There You Are.

 

Once you enter into the life of an addict, you are there. Not only are you there, but you might often find that you are no longer here.

Here is where only you are. But, you are no longer. A barnacle, superglued to the other, not sucking life but giving, your purpose becomes it.

Every time you try to extract, the primordial ooze of regret suffocates you like a stagnant oil spill. You are sure that, without your presence, the addict’s return to dissolution will be far worse than the time before, perhaps tragically. So, you return, just to make the sludge drop off before you shower.

And, then you go to Al Anon. Al Anon is where everybody goes who can’t leave. And, they sit around, and follow all the rules of the meeting, and bite their lips during the droners and chew their tongues when somebody cries out for an answer. And, when it is finally your turn, you know full well that everybody else is either biting it or chewing it but you adopt the mantle of denial just long enough to say your piece so that your face doesn’t come off your head and melt under the lights.

Being at Al Anon serves one purpose. It helps you accept that, from within your particular demographic, there are between nine and twenty two other hapless partners and spouses whose lives are as inextricably caught as yours is.

There are two ways people exit these meetings. They either bolt out as quickly as they arrived, or linger interminably, usually gathered around the latest newcomer. When you are the newcomer, you experience a few minutes of comfort realizing that the rules of the meeting can be bent just long enough for some actual human contact.

Thirty eight minutes later, legs crossed in a standing position, you still haven’t shaken off the last, most desperate proselytizer, the one whose week was by far the most traumatic. That one really needs you. Without you, at least in symbol, the meeting will have been meaningless.

When you finally get into your car, momentary relief that you can finally go floods your being. And, this going is of the highest value. By leaving the meeting, you have performed the only true act of departure you’ve made all week.

And, you drive away.

At this point, you have two choices.

You can keep driving. Or, you can return to the arms of the addict, who waits anxiously for you.

And, everybody knows where you will go.

You go back. You go there, because that is where you are. Even when you leave, you are still there.

There you are.

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© 4/4/18  Ruth Ann Scanzillo     All rights those of the author, whose story it is, and whose name appears above this line. Thank you.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

 

Original Sin.

 

[final draft].

Everybody secretly yearns to be the next “original.” Nobody wants to remind anyone of somebody else they know. In spite of the billions upon billions of us and, though likely manifest more strongly in some than in others, we each carry within us the desire to break the mold.

Among the vast and nearly endless array of musical masterworks created for orchestra from across virtually every country in Europe (and, more recently, the rest of the world), many have enjoyed a wide audience for decades, crossing the generations. From Beethoven’s symphonies through the Russian masters to Americans like Copland and Gershwin, these comprise a virtual museum for the listening ear – the “classics.” And, each is a singular original.

Others are lesser known.
In the hands of mere mortals, just such unfamiliar pieces are nonetheless a real challenge to pull off; in short, they’ve garnered less air time because they represent, in the hands of all but the best, a greater risk to the reputation of the musicians.

A certain serenade fits that bill.

Miklos Rozsa, best known as composer of film scores for such epics as “Ben Hur” and “The Thief of Baghdad”, wasn’t only servant to the cinematic medium; he also composed legitimate, stand alone orchestral pieces. One of his most sensuous he called “Hungarian Serenade” because, well, he was Hungarian.

Like most Hungarians and probably few Serenades, the piece is both passionate and flamboyantly effusive, yet irresistibly persuasive; it bespeaks at once the soul of a man who yearns, whose feelings are deep, and of a nation’s people wearing their hearts on its sleeve.

Now, this Hungarian composer loved the cello. He loved it so much that he featured the instrument prominently in the music he wrote. His  Serenade has five movements, but the second is devoted almost exclusively to the cello’s voice.

And, no shrinking violet, Rozsa gives the cello one royal entrance: an octave shift, right out of the gate.

From the day of my own emergence, and many years before I knew what a cello was, I was destined – if my father had anything to say about it – to be one of a kind. He would raise me on the sound of his bari-tenor, crooning the hymns and gaslight love songs of his generation. A singular talent, himself, he would continually remind me that I was a “born artist.” Eventually, I became one – first, through visual media, and then, via the musical profession. And, I did so boldly, from the deep conviction of my father’s endowment.

But, my mother was raised on fear. Her father was an English street preacher. He regularly beat his eldest daughter. And, he took his family, every Sunday morning, to the small, exclusive, sectarian Fundamentalist meeting hall of the Plymouth Brethren, where they could be reminded  – all day long, and again on Tuesday and Friday night  – of their inheritance: total, and original, sin.

It would take the whole of life thus far for me to realize how un-reconcilable such branding would be; conceived to be a creative, to express the ineffable, yet saturated by a sense of sinfulness. Instead of finding an otherwise inevitable place among the “free spirits”,  self-loathing became my middle name.

This past Saturday, as section leader among the cellists of the Erie Chamber Orchestra, and the ” Hungarian Serenade” having been an included feature, I was called upon to present Rozsa’s cello solo in all its magnificence. I meditated; I set my inner narrative on the positive affirmations of my musical lineage; I prepared, diligently, the entire body of that singular voice; I took my beta blocker. I was, by all accounts, ready to meet the task.

But, this time, the devil would be in one, pesky mathematical detail: statistical probability.

Delicately balancing delusional grandeur and innate fatalism, I had faced that formidable octave each time with the measured mix of physical distribution of weight, point of arrival, and trajectory. Between practice at home, and the three opportunities our orchestral budget would allow with my colleagues, I had managed to nail that shift at every rehearsal. And, I mean, down to the precisely required vibrational frequency.

Come the concert, and its moment of truth, however, one inner battle with cognitive dissonance could not be surmounted by either mental conditioning or earnest commitment to the music; statistically, my odds for missing that octave had steadily increased!

Like all good Hungarians, I heaved a melodramatic sigh, smiled at my section mates, gave my conductor a sure nod, and went for it.

There was much to celebrate at the close of that performance. Our featured violinist, Michael Ludwig, stepping in at the last minute to cover the most difficult concerto in the repertoire, was an absolutely flawless and mesmerizing sensation. Our ensemble had never been tighter. Each family of the orchestra was more than worthy of thunderous acknowledgement. And, I would immerse myself in the joyful relief of having expressed my creative soul more fully than ever before.

Yet, if I truly bore the aforementioned stain, the devil would have his jollies. He would indulge them in that microtone living just beneath the point of arrival of the octave B, and it would not matter one iota if anybody else admitted to the hearing.

Original sin is so engraved in the psyche that, even when one proves to oneself a capacity for the truly amazing, one can spend a lifetime yearning to give oneself its permission. In the meantime, opting to be carried by the exultant triumph of the human spirit, seeking the rewards of the total spectrum of artistic experience, can rival even the exacting order of the universe. We may all be self-generating expressions of the same, original DNA, after all. Original sin, be damned.

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© Ruth Ann Scanzillo  11/23/15  All rights those of the author; sharing permitted only by written request.  Thank you!

littlebarefeetblog.com