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Surprising Advice for Tumultuous Times

February '17

Last week I heard some great advice for living in tumultuous times from a most unexpected source as I watched Greater Boston on TV with Jim Braude. He had challenged Andris Nelsons, conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, to come on the show and play the trumpet. Nelsons wisely brought the first trumpeter of the orchestra to play with him, and I leaned forward to hear a charming trumpet duet.

The surprise advice arrived afterwards when Nelsons spoke about how important art can be in turbulent times. He noted that when you come back to art, music and culture, you feel more fulfilled as a human being. As he said, “you can always rely on music to lift up your spirit in difficult times.”

I realized in an instant he was right. While listening to the trumpet duet, I had already been transported out of my everyday life and its worries. Art often takes you to a transcendent place where you experience momentary beauty.

You can find this transcendent place whenever you appreciate or create some form of art – whether you are listening to a favorite piece of choral music or playing it on the piano, whether you are admiring a particular sculpture or creating one with clay. For me, gardens count as art too, so I would add to this list of possibilities: marveling at  hellebores blooming through the snow in winter, or planting morning glories that grow up to encase your deck in summer.

The midlife journey, itself presents you with significant challenges. When you add tumultuous times to this daily mix, whether they be the result of nature or politics, you need a break — an escape, a chance to engage in a activity that takes you away from all these uncertainties.

As Andris Nelson suggests, art provides that opportunity. So, which form of art speaks to you? What pulls you away from your natural worries and concerns? Whatever form this art might take, be sure to engage in it as often as you can. I’d love to hear about your experience in this realm. Your ideas might even inspire others!

Look forward to your comments,

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