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Listening to the hymn…

“Wagner. And yet the world, the human heart and mind—To understand these things must be our aim.

Faust. To understand—And how is that defined?”—Goethe, Faust Part I

It’s open mic night and I’ve walked over to sit at the bar and take in a little music with my beer. The room is half full and the people listen politely and never fail to applaud each player with an appropriate blend of enthusiasm and indifference. Even the mad poet who invariably kicks off the evening with his three poem set of Bible quoting rants, reading from tattered looking scraps which he crumples and tosses as he progresses, earns his regular round of polite applause.

A young woman with long dark hair and a light flowery dress follows the poet. Then a man, older, steps up. Next, another young woman, rather short but with a big smile and evident ease behind the mic. After her there’s a thin intense young man wearing some kind of retro homburg who gives way in turn to another young woman.

I sit nursing my raspberry ale, taking it all in. Listening for the symphony. For as I sit there each successive musician with his or her own specific lyric is merely one instrument in a larger ensemble. In fact every person in the room from the players to the patrons to the staff contribute to the piece. Postures and body language are the muted mood revealing woodwinds, conversations the accompanying strings, the actual players up on stage the brass melody or pounding percussion.

And the symphony remains the same. It is Life.

Tonight, with younger soloists, it is pregnant with energy, angst and enthusiasm. The movements are a dialogue—a dance—back and forth between the sexes, as all life is. The call, meeting, and pulling away of the male and female a dynamic interplay.

But it is warm. The doors are open to let in air. Noise from the street filters in. Something is amiss. Undertones of discord reverberate off the walls. The male and female—the yin and yang—are out of tune.


“I want you, I need you!” cry the males.

“Yes!… —No,” respond the females. “Every time I give myself I am left empty, bereft afterward.”

“But I NEED you. I’m nothing without you!”

“Is that my affair?”

“How can you be so cold?”

“Cold? Me cold? I’m burning up! But where are YOU when I need you?”

“Where?” the males finally admit, “… I don’t know.”

“Yes, I want you,” the females say, “yes, I need you too. But I need you to know.”