I’m graduating college in a week, which means more blogging and more features. The hope is I churn a feature out each week. This should be one of many over the ensuing weeks.
Since fourth grade, I’ve played the euphonium. Participating in band was a way to connect with people, I was told. My father played trombone. It was a way for us to connect.
By junior high, I was committed and for a bit, considered if music was a profession worth pursuing for myself. I earned a seat in numerous honor bands, participated in one of the finest music programs in the state at North Hills and furthered my love and knowledge of music. During my senior high years, we put together some stunning performances. We were an ensemble of young teens who all had a committed vision of excellence and perseverance. We channeled our passions through it, our hope through it, our dreams through it. We were pressured day after day to do better and despite my doubts, we reached another echelon each and every time.
But despite all this, I was ready to move on after high school. By senior year, I had stopped practicing entirely, my attention and dedication pulled to other areas of my life. I thought it was time to let it go. Had it not been for a scholarship my school had offered for my musical talent, I’m not sure I would have stuck with it. Looking back, that was a foolish thing to think.
Now a senior in college, I’ve played for 13 years and I may have played my last concert two Saturday’s ago.
I put my horn back in its case and gazed at it a little longer than I usually do because I know I may not see it again for months if not years. As a journalism professional with a gradually expanding social circle and vastly expanding list of responsibilities, some of my hobbies have started falling to the wayside. Sadly, the euphonium has become one of them.
I do not say music because it hasn’t and never shall.
Since I’m a movie critic, you should expect a reference to a movie. Well, here it is. The Hope Is a Dangerous Thing scene from The Shawshank Redemption is one of my all-time favorite excerpts. Here, I could go on a ten-minute tangent discussing how criminal it is that The Shawshank Redemption didn’t win an Academy Award but that’s for another time. Instead, I’m going to talk about these snippets of dialogue:
“That’s the beauty of music. They can’t get that from you.”
“You need it so you don’t forget, forget that there are places in the world that aren’t made out of stone, that there’s something inside that they can’t get to, they can’t touch. It’s yours.”
“What are you talking about?”
At our most weathered and most tortured, at our most basic form, the arts still remain. A deaf man can still hear the music. A blind man can still see the art. A paralyzed man can still feel the dance. The arts inspire as much as they transform, as much as they remind us of what we once were and what we still can be. They are a universal language, a doorway to the soul.
They make you believe.
They make you feel.
They make you hope.
Sports has become a universal language. The arts, as well as sports, transcend linguistic barriers. Sports, as I explained in my We All feature, have the ability to overcome racial, social, economical, political and religious divides, unifying a diverse group to one aim. When Landon Donovan scored in the 2010 World Cup, the United States erupted. There were no detractors. There was no debating. There was a roar, a roar bellowing in the soul. It was a roar that roared, “Yes” and so much more than that. This raucous sound wasn’t a brick of sound. It was a tidal wave so large it’s immeasurable.
The same could be said when Manchester City scored two goals in four minutes to capture its first English Premier League title since 1968.
Sports, as well as the arts, convey the things that words sometimes can’t. In select moments, you will feel a chill on your back, an epiphany full of an aura that can only be described one way: heavenly. It is the most joyous of feelings, a feeling that will last only seconds but carries with it a mass of emotion. It reverberates inside of us. It is a feeling that replicates the vivacity of a child, unbound and free. It is a chant of ecstasy, a concussion of jubilation, a pulse-pounding ricochet contained in our hearts. It is the commanding presence of the brass, the force of the winds and strings and the crash of the percussion. It is genuine beauty, untouched and unsoiled, in its purest form. It is euphoric.
Most of all, it is an affirmation as much as a confirmation of what we already know, that we’re capable of anything and that no matter how many times we’re torn apart, you can’t separate the arts, the eternal flame, from the man.