Experience trumps all: a ramble

On Sunday we had the pleasure of attending a house concert my friend Keith Snell played in Santa Fe. It was, as expected, a lovely afternoon, with beautiful music and companionable people. Then — a treat! — we went to dinner with Keith and his family. (Well, we are friends, and I did write him all that music a couple of years ago!) We had the coziest chat, over some great food, and generally caught up and teased each other and did all those things that keep a friendship alive and lively.

Keith emailed me yesterday and thanked us for coming on Sunday. It was never a question, of course, whether we’d be there when he performed; of course we’ll be there! And no, he didn’t need to play any of my music to get me there (although he did sneak in as an encore an arrangement of Danny Boy that I had done for him, which was a treat, since I’ve never heard it played; I’ve faked my way through it, but not really learned it yet).

So of course we would go, and we were looking forward to the day too. But a funny thing happened: the experience of actually going, and hearing live music, and being with friends, and going out to dinner and having such a rollicking time — it was far better than we expected. More precisely, the actual experience was far better than our anticipated experience. Probably because we actually experienced it!

This may sound like much ado about nothing, and possibly it is. Still, I live in my imagination so much that I often forget that actually experiencing is better. Far too often I stay at home, because I “know” the experience that awaits me and hey, I’m old enough to have experienced it before, and also, let’s face it, I’m lazy and very much a home-body. I prevent myself from having a new experience, which could be magical in the way that Sunday was.

I believe this is what makes live music better than recorded, too. Recorded music is a great blessing*, but live music is lived in the moment: nothing else can replace that experience.

*Did you know there exists film footage from the early 20th century of an old man, who had been a student of Franz Liszt in the mid-19th century, playing piano; we can actually hear and see a former student of Franz Liszt! I’ll put that in the blessing category any day.

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