Harmony and Me

So, Congressman Frank Underwood is standing in front of the library that will shortly be named for him on the Sentinel campus. He is obviously emotional, remembering his time at the school and the bourbon soaked celebration of the night before with three of his closest friends. He is struggling to come up with the word or words that will adequately convey what he is feeling about that time and that place, that will come close to describing what he had there, felt there, did there, and learned there. Finally, as he glances towards his old singing (and drinking) buddies, it comes to him.


We sometimes get very nostalgic about the past and how good it was. How enticing the smells of turkey and dressing, winter greenery, and peppermint sticks were. How warm the fire felt, how soft the lights were. How sweet that first real kiss was. How bright the spring sunshine, how fragrant the summer flowers and how sweet, oh, so sweet, was the smell of freshly mown grass. 

The future can pull us forward, sweeping right past the current day into an idyllic haze of sweetness to come. We are intoxicated not by the bourbon of days gone by, but by the wine not yet bottled, made from grapes not yet harvested from vines not yet hardened and seasoned. We drink in that loopy, happy, hazy feeling of what will be. We revel in what is to come and what we are all entitled to. 

We reminisce too long and dream too much at our peril. Like Rip Van Winkle, we might one day find ourselves twenty years  older,  none the wiser, and long since removed from all that is familiar and comfortable. 

Harmony is the key, pun entirely intended. 

We all are, like it or not, quarter notes in a great, grand, sweeping symphony. Alone, we make a short, tiny sound. Together, ah, together, we make the music of life. The trick is that we must work together, according to certain rules and signatures and conventions, to produce a pleasing product. Now, granted, we may be discordant, shaped by our own motives, or we may be set down at odd places on the staff by no fault of our own. Either way, the sound produced may turn out to be more Glass than glorious, more discordant than Dvorak. We will, no doubt, produce music. It simply may be music that no one wants to hear. 

But harmony! Sweet harmony, like that peppermint and mown grass and sunshine and kitchen smells at Thanksgiving. Harmony, pure and exact and mathematical, yet exuberant and boundless and unrestricted by time and space. Harmony, that coming together of notes and phrases and chords and movements and symphonies and the life’s work of those who hold their existence, and their connection to those around them, so dear that they want it to be played and played, over and over, in a loop of sound and emotion and conjured laughter and love that will never die. 

We have so little time, my friends, before the coda. We don’t know if that final cadence will be a few measures or an entire movement.

What we do know, what is very clear, is that we can can, each of us, choose to be part of something worthy of Mozart. Something grand, something exciting, penetrating, intense, lovely and Herculean. Something that those who come after us will choose to listen to over and over and over, relishing each passage, hearing something new each time they experience it. We can choose to be part of a lasting legacy of close harmony, lilting melodies and a denouement that leaves one gasping for breath, crying, laughing, loving and knowing that they are truly alive, simply because they experienced it, and us. 

Harmony cannot be crafted from the past. It cannot be written with notes that do not yet exist.

It can only be produced in the present, reverberating across time for generations to come, until the final breath across the reed, the final push of air through metal tube and strum across taught string means that it is no more, and we are all, then, at peace.