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Derek Best has contributed to several publications, including Macleans Magazine Canada, and Omni Magazine, USA. He is has also produced many documentary films for Television. For many years, he has been interested in A Course in Miracles, a metaphysical thought system, and maintains the official website for that organization. "ACIM", he says "is central to my personal way of seeing the world." This site is strictly personal however. Derek has an eclectic range of interests, and writes about them here as the mood strikes him.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Timeless Sea

"Brought together in a common purpose." I am always accused of cynicism when talking about our reactions to terrorism. I always felt we were falsely united in our hatred of a common enemy. Somewhere I remember reading the words; "Nowhere do we bond more deeply than in our wounds." The Course teaches that we have created a world of adversity and death so we can proclaim our own innocence in suffering. "Brother behold me, for at your hand I die." When something "terrible" occurs like 9/11 or like the London bombings of exactly one year ago today, we can all feel like victims of a common victimizer, which is a powerful unifying force. The trouble is - it only seems to unify us by solidifying our mutual belief in an illusion. It does not help us escape from it.

Yesterday at 12:00 noon I was riding the London tube (subway) when the announcement was made that the entire transportation system was going to observe a 2-minute silence for those killed in the attacks a year ago. The trains kept moving but the carriage went deathly quiet. Everyone sat lost in private thought. You could feel the silent camaraderie. A few score strangers thrown together in a tunnel who normally would scarcely give a hoot about each other, were suddenly a community of brothers with a comon purpose. Everyone was intensely aware of everyone else. I do not want to belittle the strong need to understand and somehow deal with the shock and the outrage. Everyone was just doing the best they could in terms they understood. The sense of bonding, though perhaps misguided, is a comfort. "Yea though I walk through the shadow of the valley of death ... thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me." I just want to remind myself on this day that there is no common enemy, there are no fellow victims, and there is no valley of death. All these things appear to exist because we have forgotten who we really are. Feeling silent sorrow in a subway will not really change things on any level that is important. I remind myself of this - but I still observed the silence.

Last night I attended a concert of Beethoven's sixth played by St Martin in the Fields. Some musicologists hold that all Beethoven's even numbered symphonies were lightweights, while the first, third, fifth, seventh and ninth were the masterpieces. That said, you have to wonder if even a lightweight piece by a giant is not still a masterpiece on any scale. The Academy orchestra was not that large (I counted 45 musicians) but they played a finely-honed and sensitive piece at a medium-fast clip, and managed to produce a large dynamic range without effort. Twelve years ago on the same stage at the Barbican I heard the same piece and it seemed mechanical and lifeless. Last night was a different story. Conductor Carlo Rizzi was highly animated and looked at times to be almost fencing with the first violinist, but his energy was infectious and the musicians gave 110%. That moment of epiphany came when one realized all awareness that this was a performance and we were separate beings had been lost. It became a universe of pure music, and you lived and breathed inside it. The big auditorium was full, and as hushed - awash in the timeless sea - and still as statues. I think everyone felt suspended outside of themselves for a while, lost in a beautiful place ...

Seems to me that is being brought together in a common purpose.