Words

Every time, it’s a miracle. Here are all these people, full of heartache or hatred or desire, and we all have our troubles and the…year is filled with vulgarity and triviality and consequence, and…there’s this life we’re struggling through full of shouting and tears and laughter and fights and break-ups and dashed hopes and unexpected luck—it all disappears, just like that, when the choir begins to sing. Everyday life vanishes into song, you are suddenly overcome with a feeling of brotherhood, of deep solidarity, even love, and it diffuses the ugliness of everyday life into a spirit of perfect communion. Even the singers’ faces are transformed…I see human beings, surrendering to music.

Every time, it’s the same thing. I feel like crying, my throat goes all tight and I do the best I can to control myself but sometimes it gets close: I can hardly keep myself from sobbing. So when they sing a canon I look down at the ground because it’s just too much emotion at once: it’s too beautiful, and everyone singing together, this marvelous sharing. I’m no longer myself, I am just one part of a sublime whole, to which others also belong, and I always wonder at such moments why this cannot be the rule of everyday life, instead of being an exceptional moment during a choir.

When the music stops, everyone applauds, their faces all lit up, the choir radiant. It is so beautiful.

In the end, I wonder if the true movement of the world might not be a voice raised in song.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery, 2006 (Translated from the French by Alison Anderson)

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