Tuesday, October 04, 2005



At the market in Bedoin it was as if the breath was being punched out of the sun. People were moving between stalls buying saucisses and trompettes de mort, clouds were racing in the sky, pastis was being drunk in rickety chairs on cafe terraces but it was all happening as if on borrowed energy; the last manic movements of a clockwork world; desire eclipsed and only a memory of it being played out. Then, for a few moments, everything was still before the sun gasped back it's impulse to shine.

In the last few days I have come to a resting place. The mountain of chores has lessened to a maintenance-friendly hillock and there, at the end of action, I find a space with no need for movement. In that space I find my desire. Something internal is moving me towards my cello. I am watching it, listening to it's whisper, and I am laughing. Maybe I just won't pick it up again? When was I last moved to pick up my cello and make a sound? For months I have been shunting it between my knees and wielding the bow on the dot of 10, 15, 21.00......

Sometime in the next few days I might just find myself sitting with it and, from the stillness within, I might be moved to play. Like the in-breath arising naturally from emptiness.

I remember a teenage girl I taught once who was pushed terribly hard by her parents. Poker faced, she spun through the motions of concerti, scales and studies, winning everything and feeling nothing. I was part of the plan to make her win more and feel even less, except I didn't buy it. Once I had gained her trust, I sat with her in silence for an hour. Her only instruction from me was that if, at any point she was moved to make a sound she should follow that movement. If not she was very welcome simply to sit with me. After about twenty minutes a tear spilled over her cheekbone and down her cold cheek, softening it.

"I don't feel anything" she said.

Her desire to sing out or even to move had been totally eclipsed by all the control.

We sat again. Towards the end of the lesson she put her bow to the string and played one note.

I was that girl once and, for an instant yesterday as the sun was partially eclipsed by the moon, her emptiness shivered through me again.


Blogger Jean said...

This made me cry. At over 50, I still feel like that young girl sometimes. Surrounded by people whose main motivation is control, habit and fear of what they might feel if they stop, for whom so much of importance has gone behind the sun, it's really hard sometimes not to be the same. Thanks, Ruth, for what you gave that pupil and for putting it so beautifully. :-)

2:48 PM  
Blogger Anne said...

What a beautiful, sad image.
I'm still enjoying your blog very much.

2:48 PM  
Blogger MB said...

Ah Ruth, I swear I've been that girl. The balance between discipline and inspiration has always been hard for me to maintain, lest discipline eclipse inspiration. But so much can happen in the space of a breath, if I listen. It's the listening that goes first, and seems to be key. Thank you for this reminder.

5:03 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

When the moon moves in front of the sun, it does not mean the sun is put out, only that we are protected for a while from its light. The shadow is a sort of silence. Are you the moon? Are the parents the sun? Is the girl the earth?

There is a sort of hush associated with eclipse. The birds stop singing. The insects stop buzzing. Suddenly, in the shadow of silence, we find we are being asked what there is behind all this hub-bub which is the daily life of the sun, the noise in the market, the daily chores...

It's a cold, shadowy place. It can make us cry. Eventually, we may achieve one thin, reedy note. Failure of imagination, then? Or remarkable achievement? A bird singing in eclipse. Where does it draw its inspiration from?

10:30 PM  
Blogger deb said...

You write beautifully. Thank you for sharing your story.

5:16 AM  
Blogger Dale said...

Oh, bless you. I've never regretted the few chances I've had of reneging on such conspiracies.

5:29 AM  
Blogger ruth said...

lovely comment taupe.

i think i will leave the answers to who is who to your imagination. suffice it to say, perhaps, that we are all the sun and all the moon at different moments and in different places? (also my mum reads this!)

i loved image of the bird singing in the eclipse. I guess it draws it's inspiration from the silence.

her note was like that.

1:46 PM  
Anonymous beth said...

How have I not been reading your blog all these weeks?

As an (amateur but serious) music-maker, this was a very poignant post for me. Thank you. I wonder how SHE would describe that memory?

12:56 AM  

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