• Posted: Apr 29, 2012 13:49:05
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Have you ever had one thing remind you of another? Say, the smell of cookies baking recall for you the loving touch of your mother. Or, a piece of music transport you to a fondly remembered place and time or an elaborately imagined place you'd love to explore. Vivid memories are almost always encoded in our brains as constellations of things: places, scents, sounds, times of day and year, colors, objects, actors on hand, issues in question, sequences of events, etc., etc. Many many things lumped together make our most vivid memories rich in detail. It is hardly ever one thing in isolation that we remember, but things come together, things in concordance. Take any of those parts away and our memories as a whole becomes less: less full, less balanced, less vivid, less satisfying, less distinctly memorable.
It's a game that artists, writers, actors, poets, composers, musicians, philosophers, mathematicians, craftsmen of all types, and even cooks play. An interesting combination of things, novel perhaps, but not too much of this nor not too little of that. Just right. Engaging. Interesting. Satisfying. Responsible. Memorable.
One dictionary defines concordance as: "an harmonious state, congruity of parts with one another and with the whole". It isn't just the lumping together of things. It's the lumping together of things in such a way as to make something satisfying and meaningful of the whole, like the right combination of musical notes sounding a chord or the right combination of talent making a resourceful, efficient, and effective team.
When we look to what is good in humans we invariably fixate upon what has been brought together or about with such meaningful and satisfying precision that it seems as if it must have been effortlessly ordained in heaven. But in fact, nothing of the sort has happened. Put the question to those responsible and the answer is always that diligent effort was what made the result seem so simple and perfect to the rest of us. We who had no part in the process do not see the false starts, the experimentation, the testing, the rebalancing, the editing, the throwing away and putting back, the adjusting up and down and back and forth, this way and that, the setting aside then coming back to again later, the frustration, perhaps the giving up, then finally the finding of renewed inspiration, energy, and clarity of vision. No, we never see all that diligent effort. But it is there, there in everything that we do that is lastingly meaningful and good.
Not every improbable juxtaposition will result in satisfying concordance. And most certainly, some misguided efforts toward improbable concordance have and will produce horrifying consequences. But most assuredly, diligent effort toward finding and reaching universally satisfying harmonious concordance will ultimately be worth our every effort. May you never tire or despair in such effort. It is what most makes us human.
Just as an aside, did you know that the sticky black candy known as licorice is, in deed, made from root extracts of the licorice plant, but that the actual licorice flavor we are so familiar with comes from anisette, an extract from seeds of a different plant, anise?
Sunday, March 25th, 2012