Sunday, April 25, 2010

Marai Nagasu is a Complete Joy!

American Figure Skater Marai Nagasu is a joy to watch! Her spirit takes flight while she skates. She exudes pure joy. I can feel it when I watch her. Her body reflects her spirit in her skating – it’s fast, free, joyous. And she spins – oh does she spin! Like no other.

Spinning is an expression of total joy. Think about it. Kids spin. I feel like spinning and twirling down the street when I 'm in tremendous joy. (Unfortunately I hold back, opting instead to act like an adult -Boo.)

But Marai Nagasu is a joy to watch. She’s only sixteen. I hope she retains her joyful spirit throughout her skating career. Her website tells you to have a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious day!

Go Marai!!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Classical Music is so Serious

Classical music is so serious.

This was my thought at a recent concert of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. No one in the chorus was smiling. No one had a sparkle in their eyes. Expressions were very serious. The irony was, they were singing the "Ode to Joy". Is this how Beethoven meant for his 9th to be sung?

I can only imagine the rigorous training and intense competition involved in becoming a classical singer. I have utmost respect for our city’s classical musicians. I honor the art of music and the richness that it brings to our lives. Yet I remain feeling a bit empty sometimes at the seriousness of it all.

My mind floats back to the glory days of Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops. A beloved figure in Boston for over 50 years, he was a joyful spirit. He deliberately kept his performances informal, light, even self-mocking, all in the spirit of being inclusive and having a good time with the music. The whole idea of The Boston Pops vs. The Boston Symphony was to have more fun, to be more playful. His free outdoor concerts were wildly popular and are now memorialized in an outdoor statue of his likeness. I believe it was Arthur Fiedler’s fun-loving nature coupled with his genius that made him so special.

More recently, the very successful Dutch violinist and conductor AndrĂ© Rieu, is the direct opposite of serious. In his Johann Strauss Orchestra the singers smile and laugh, blatantly expressing joy. I love him for this. It’s clear he requires his ensemble to be jubilant, to have their spirits soar as high as the music; the music matching the people creating it. They wear bright colors rather than the traditionally heavy-spirited black. He jumps around on stage with his 1667 Stradivarius violin (a violin protected almost as heavily as our president). It’s classical music coupled with joy – a winning combination.

Lastly I always come back to Mozart, the ultimate genius with the raucous sense of humor. His music is pure joy. It’s happy music. I use it if I’m ever sad or depressed, letting the uplifting melodies soar through my home. Even his operas, The Marriage of Figaro, Cosi Fan Tutti, The Magic Flute, are full of lightness and comedy.

To me classical music is a beautiful thing, an emotional experience. I left that 9th symphony in tears because it touched me so deeply. Yet I want to say to those who brought it to me: “Lighten up. Let the joy you bring to us, fill you as well. Let it then come back to us multiplied, filling the concert hall to the brim.” How amazing that would be!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Labyrinth of Laughs

A laughter club participant recently shared this wonderful story about her mother:

She was walking a labyrinth (similar to a maze, but with a single path to the center) along with a group of others as part of a spiritual meditation. Embarrassingly she starting laughing too hard while she was trying to walk, laughing at how serious the others were. It just cracked her up and she could barely continue.

I too sometimes think the spiritual community needs to lighten up. Too often the perspective is lost, that laughing is indeed very spiritual; in my mind the most spiritual activity, as it connects you to your truest essence.

So I love this idea of walking a labyrinth while laughing, running the energy of laughter through the maze, carving a path of joy! Bravo to this wonderful woman, who thought she was doing it wrong.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Smile while you Drive

Some laughter leaders I know like to laugh while driving. Myself I find it a bit distracting. Call me old fashion, but I believe in paying attention while on the road. So as the next best thing, I often smile while I drive. I often smile anyway, so this isn’t too much of a leap. But as it’s become a conscious choice, so it has also become a very pleasant driving habit. It has made my time in traffic joyful, if you can believe that. The only drawback I have found is that it relaxes me so much and so immediately that, without being aware of it, I start slowing down because I’m so relaxed. Nothing wrong with that except it annoys the cars behind me. So be it. One more peaceful driver on the road is a good thing.