I was once told that clapping comes from stories: In the primal days of storytelling, when our minds were dominated by the notion of spirits, stories would bring those spirits to life. And when a story ended, the spirits were chased away - by clapping.
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As a child, I loved beginnings. As far back as I can remember, I used to pause before something good and remind myself how, later on, I would wish that I could come back to this moment - just so that I could do it again. It would be my opportunity to bless what I was about to do, so to speak, and relish in it, appreciate every moment of it, enjoy it to the last drop. I just loved beginnings.
It was a love-hate relationship, of course :)
Because I also knew that this moment would not return, and the experience would come and go, whether I wanted it to or not.
In the Hindu pantheon, Ganesha is regarded often as the god of beginnings. He is easily recognizable by his elephant head, with a man’s body. In that sense, I have often had a fascination with Ganesha.
In the last few years, however, I have developed a growing fascination with endings. It came over time, and unexpectedly… And there is a very specific reason for it - one that is quite different from my childhood musings.
When I perform a song as a musician, I have come to notice that there is a moment after that song is over, when a magical portal is open: It has been opening throughout the piece, but thus far we have all been distracted by the music. Now, with the door wide open, there is suddenly silence. And in this silence, I find myself pretty much always shy: What now? What do we do with this heightened sensitivity, awareness, and even connection that the music has brought us to feel? For a brief window of time, I feel like we have the opportunity to feel at a greater depth than we did before. This is a gift indeed, when the mind is acquiescent, and something we may not have noticed otherwise is peeking in through the door.
And what do we do?
We clap as soon as possible.
We banish the spirits.
What a waste…..
For exactly this reason, the famed klezmer clarinetist Giora Feidman has been known to specifically ask his audiences NOT to clap.
At the end of things, there is a gaping silence of awe… and wonder… and - I strongly believe - opportunity. It is the opportunity to deepen our experience as humans - if we can be courageous enough to leave that door wide open, and welcome the experience, and see what is inside.
So I want to explore that shyness in myself, and see what lies beneath it. I want to let my heart be opened at these moments of silence when the music ends. And I believe that this applies not only to music :) I do find that, very often, we are sensitive when something ends. And when we are sensitive, we learn new things.
So “God bless endings”, if I can say such a thing. Ganesha is, after all, not only the god of beginnings; he is also the remover of obstacles. Perhaps, in a sense, the opener of doors. And maybe it is at that moment, after the music has played and our senses are wide awake, that a door might open. And in that light, I wish you all a beautiful December season - of blissful endings, and by the grace of whatever god you like, new opportunities to learn.
Photo by Timrael, Pixabay