Let the Beauty We Love Be What We Do
Last night my Rotarian host, Gobind, took me to a concert hosted by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations & the Egyptian Embassy – Marimba, a music Group from Egypt. I have learned that Gobind is a very well connected person, though he will humbly shake his head when I suggest this. To illustrate my point, before we took our seats he casually introduced me to the ambassadors of Myanmar, Vatican City, Brasil, Eritrea, Bosnia and Herzegovina (rekla sam mu ‘moje ime je Anna, drago mi je”), and Egypt and then pointed out the ambassadors of Jordan, Oman, and Cuba. Needless to say, I was mesmerized.
At 6:35 an eight piece ensemble took to the stage and Egypt’s star marimba player, Ms. Nesma Abdel Aziz, took to her instrument like it is what she was born to do. The 75 minute set encompassed music from all corners of the globe, including rousing performances of “Ojos Asi”, “Phantom of the Opera”, and “William Tell Overture”. I had the pleasure of sitting next to the daughter of the Ambassador of Qatar. She and I chatted about Delhi, the great fashion sense of Ms. Aziz and, when a man in a long black galabaya took to the stage and began to sing, she told me the words meant “thank you for being here”.
The music of the Middle East has always had a powerful effect on me. The wailing mezmar, sharp tablas, and mystical qanun carry me to a place both familiar and enchanting. The evening’s performance brought to mind one of my favorite poems.
In The Ground, Rumi writes:
Today, like every other day, we wake up / empty and scared. / Don’t open the door to the study and / begin reading. / Take down the dulcimer. / Let the beauty we love be what we do. / There are hundreds of ways to kneel / and kiss the ground.
Let the beauty we love be what we do. For me, this line is an invitation to live on purpose, to seek beauty in each moment and live each day on purpose with the beauty we love. For some of us that beauty is embodied in inviting rhythm from the body of a marimba, constructing prose, tending a garden, or practicing a sport. Whatever it is, when we live our beauty we shine and, in doing so, inspire those around us to make time for whatever it is that feeds their soul and nourishes their spirit.
After the concert ended we shook hands once more with the Egyptian Ambassador. He asked me if I enjoyed the performance.
I told him, “I loved it, this music makes me homesick for a place I have never been.”
He replied that I must come for a visit. “This is the new Egypt,” he said, gesturing to the musicians, “it is young, and alive, and moving.”
I was born with a deep desire to see the world, learn foreign languages and traditions, and share meals and political conversation with those I meet along the way. That is the beauty I love, and now more than ever it is what I do. What is your beauty?
This morning: arranging classes on campus, this afternoon: continue the hunt for a flat/apartment, tonight: a Rotary event, then a salsa concert hosted by the Colombian Embassy.