You Should Have Been There. I’m not quite certain I have the words to describe it, and that’s embarrassing. After writing all those thousands of words over all these years, and I can’t describe a simple gathering? Maybe simple in its happening, but complex in its meaning.
Sure there are words that come to mind, but what if the words are inadequate. Let’s try a few. Electric. Magical. Then there’s ambiance or ambience. The dictionary says you can spell it two different ways, but electric, magical, or ambiance are words in anyone’s vocabulary that remind that person of situations they’ve been in previously, not this one I was in.
Perhaps the closest I can come to describing it pertains to a restaurant I visited a few times in Louisville, Kentucky. There were four violinists. They would begin the night on a small stage at the front of the restaurant as meals were served. I doubt any of the four had a Stradivarius, but all four could extract from their violins a Stradivarius sound, which must have come only after years and years of practice. Then one remained on stage, while the other three went to various locations in the restaurant, and that produced a stereophonic sound, which is where they always played “The Blue Danube” as I invariably requested.
The people in this gathering I am trying to describe have themselves practiced years and years, and what they have been practicing is life. Living life. Enjoying life. Enduring life, being successful in life, and here I am not referring to the monetary aspect, for there is a difference in being successful in life, and having a lot of money, and considering yourself successful because of that. Some may have had money, but that was not the overriding factor in their lives.
The gathering was of seven or eight senior citizens who had come to read their stories or talk about their stories to an audience. The book is “Proceeding Over the Mountain”, a compilation of stories written by those who are members of the Homewood Senior Center.
The book was compiled by Aimee Thornton, the Director of the Homewood Senior Center. After what seemed like a thousand starts and stops, and two or three years, Aimee was finally able to gather the stories, send them to the printing company, and back came the books. Well, sorta.
I am not familiar with the religious aspect of the printing company, but having been involved in a book or two of my own in the past, I do imagine they devise a prayer for each individual book they encounter, because there are always tons of twists and turns in producing the finished book, and I think a prayer customized for each occasion is a necessity to survive it and succeed.
Why is it so difficult to tell what I saw and heard at this gathering? I’ve seen and heard sincerity before. It was here. I’ve seen and heard feelings before. They were here. I’ve seen and heard laughter before. It was here. I’ve seen and heard tears before. They were here. I’ve seen and heard people tell of living full lives. They were here.
Much as with the stereophonic violins, all of these lives-related stories permeated the room, every square three-dimensional inch of it, and reverberated to where I could first hear it, and then experienced the vibrance and force of the words echoing in my mind. Even the day after they still do.
Some would say seniors are done with life, they have lived their meaningful time on this earth, and should move aside for the younger generations. The seniors should go unnoticed, don’t occupy much space, don’t try to make people think they still know something that should be told.
Had you been at this gathering, you would have thought otherwise.
Stereophonic words, my friends, stereophonic, Stradivarius words.