The Importance of Playing the Saxophone

Feeling the wind rush through your hair on a country road... one of the many things I love about life. I love life.

I love apple cake. I love watching yellow leaves fall on a crisp day. I love the look on someone’s face when they let out an irrepressible smile. I love my favorite music a lot. I love the comfort of leaning on someone you love deeply, and feeling their sturdy self hold you up. I love sauteeing mushrooms. I love my ridiculously fat dog. I love Anne of Green Gables. I love telling secrets. I love the feeling of a new pen on a blank page. I love making people laugh. I love having a good hair day. I love sifting warm sand through my fingers and feeling the warm California sun freckling my face. I love kisses and hugs. I love loving people.

I love life.

Recently, I was lounging around late at night, watching an old movie with some friends. In the movie there was a scene at a swing dancing club. As I watched, I was swept up in the loveliness. There were swishing dresses, smiles, laughter, amazing dancers, and a very capable saxophonist.

“There are so many lovely things in the world to do!” I said “You can play saxophone, or dance, or be great at cooking!” 

One of my fellow watchers made a “pffpppht” noise.

“Or you could... you know.. do something important. Like like help dying people, or fixing war.

I immediately felt smooshed; a cloud of April showers had descended on my Spring time mood. Perhaps I’m silly, trivial, spend my love on meaningless things... who cares about playing saxophone?

I trudged up the stairs and knit my brows in thought as I walked into my room all shadowy with night. I flipped on extra light as I brushed my teeth, and as I did, my favorite corner of my small dorm room: my desk nook. In my little nook I have a menagerie of pictures, post cards, plane tickets, calendars, notes from my beloveds, tea and my favorite mug, cheeze its... everything that reminded me of home and beauty. Everything that reminded me of who I was. Everything that reminded me of who I love.

And that’s when I realized why playing the saxophone, dancing, and loving apple cake is important... It makes us human

We are constantly confronted with suffering and chaos. It is ever present through social media, television, and the generally media saturated world we live in, and the last few months have been particularly heavy. It screams at us and seems to cast a cloud of the pervading effect of sickness and sadness that we can’t seem to do anything about. In Communications they call this “compassion fatigue.” We are bombarded by the voices of the news that make us feel helpless and guilty. Surely with a world such as this we should do something important.

I believe this kind of world and mindset generally leads not to action, however, but to a kind of paralysis and dehumanization. We begin to see the world as the dead, dying, and distressed, but we feel powerless to stop anything. In that focus on darkness, we forget what makes the atrocities of the world so awful to begin with: the destruction of beautiful, potato loving, jazz music playing human beings made. Violence, illness, and war, try with all their powers to deny, discolor, and dilute the true, vibrant, colorful nature of life. When we proclaim the only important things to be “dying people” and “war” we forget why it is that we fight against these things: because life, in all its pulsing, hobby filled, giggling reality is beautiful and to be preserved.

This doesn’t mean that we forget the sad things that are happening, or that we don’t fight for what is right and true. It means that we do not accept darkness as the ultimate reality. It means we dance in defiance, and we sing when the music stops. Only light can put out darkness. Only life can defeat death, and life is made up of a thousand unimportant things. 

It reminds me of Sam and Frodo in Lord of the Rings. Near the final scene of the movie, when they have almost reached Mount Doom, all seems bleak and dry and dead. And then...

Sam: Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo? It'll be spring soon. And the orchards will be in blossom. And the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket. And they'll be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields... and eating the first of the strawberries with cream. Do you remember the taste of strawberries?

Frodo: No, Sam. I can't recall the taste of food... nor the sound of water... nor the touch of grass. I'm... naked in the dark, with nothing, no veil... between me... and the wheel of fire! I can see him... with my waking eyes!

Sam: Then let us be rid of it... once and for all! Come on, Mr. Frodo. I can't carry it for you... but I can carry you!

And that is why it is important to want to play the saxophone, and to love strawberries with cream, and to love knitting, and to kiss your baby, and to love gardening, and to like the Beatles, and to drink another cup of tea. It is important because it reminds us that we, and our suffering sisters and brothers, are not headlines, statistics, or liabilities; We are humans. Humans created to create. Given music to make music. Loved into existence that we might love.

We are Humans who love life.

And that is important.