The cream in your coffee
A beautiful sunrise.
Living in this time is a grim business, with a pandemic still raging, millions unemployed and musicians in particular facing ruin. We look to small pleasures for anything positive to help keep our chins up, or cheer those around us.
Mitch Joel is a digital expert, author, speaker and host of Six Pixels of Separation, a successful podcast devoted to many things: marketing, branding, media, technology, trends…the list goes on and on.
One day in October as Mitch, who is based in Montreal, was engaged in preliminary chat with a guest about daily life during lockdown, he spoke about missing the “little things” more than anything else: meeting his friend for coffee before work, going to the Montreal International Jazz Festival, and so on. The little things.
I understand Mr. Joel – who is actually a musician himself — was trying to convey an idea, a big picture, a feeling about the things which add colour and spark to our lives, but to hear one of the largest, longest-running, multi-stage cultural events which hosts thousands of artists annually and attracts millions of visitors referred to as “one of the little things” stopped me in my tracks.
Maybe “the little things” is the wrong word for things we take for granted; maybe the “littleness” is just a matter of how much conscious thought we give them.
That little bit of cream in your coffee came from a dairy farm where the animals have to be fed & cared for, the stalls kept clean, the food for the animals cultivated, prepared & collected, the cream had to be transported on a huge, sterile truck, the refrigerated trucks designed by an engineer, to the architect-designed, temperature-controlled buildings and rooms to hold the cream before distribution to stores…and that’s just the barest outline of the whole process.
That beautiful sunrise that catches your eye for a few minutes in the morning…the entire planet had to go through another miraculous rotation, with the atmosphere and weather cooperating to provide you with a cherry-hued start to your day.
image by Shelley Brown
I think now that we’re all deprived each other’s company and the myriad of feelings and energy we get from being with people, we are now more aware of the loss of feelings associated with live music performance, or the music we do listen to taps into emotional reservoirs that are surprisingly strong.
RBC has a funding program for young athletes called “Training Ground”. One of the spots features Sophia Jensen, a sprint canoer, a sport she describes as being all about speed and power. When describing what motivates her, what helps
her focus and succeed, she says, “I like to close my eyes before my race and sing… sing a song – The “Adventure Time” theme song…it just calms me down … and my mind just shuts off… it’s easy … when the gun goes, to just go. So you’re not overthinking; you’re just having fun.” (The “Adventure Time” theme song sounds like an upbeat version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” played on ukelele.)
When musicians make big impressions on their listeners, it doesn’t necessarily make it to the “big reviews” part of their portfolio, but it really touches a musician to know the true impact their performance has had on the audience: “The concert was truly special! Nancy and Tim are outstanding musicians as well as just plain lovely people. I’ve had several people email me to say thank you …people have been stopping me to say how much they enjoyed the evening. Words such as sublime, brilliant, and engaging have been used. (audience members) were thrilled with the concert…and their obvious passion for music.”
"Mon Coeur s'ouvre à ta voix" by Camille Saint-Saens
“My Heart open itself to Your Voice”, this transcription of the romantic aria from Saint-Saint’s opera “Samson and Delilah” is one of the first pieces of music Duo Concertante listened to together many years ago. Witnessing a sunrise, enjoying a coffee with cream, connecting with friends and even hearing the music that moves us, are the things that make life enjoyable. Some of them make life worth living. We can call them the little things. But really, they are not.