The Place Where Music Goes

A professor once asked my class where music went when it was finished playing.  At the time, I remembered wondering if it mattered whether or not the music was live.  Was concert music different from recorded music?  It feels different, but I’m sure my professor wasn’t hoping we’d spend the rest of class debating this aspect of her question.  Regardless, I realized after picturing concerts I had gone to, and music I listen to while I write, that she was still talking, and I was somehow missing thirty-two minutes of my life. I tend to think a lot about the questions that aren’t important.

Since then, I think a lot about time, music, memories, love and other things that disappear from our grasp without every physically touching us.  Where does it go?  When I ponder this, I picture a woman in a loose, spider-webby kind of white dress, sitting on a stage, playing a violin.  Music is visually flowing from the vibrating strings, like smoke from a candle through the air, towards the place where it goes.  That place. I follow it at first with my eyes, because it would be rude of me to get up in the middle of such a nice performance.  But I know the music is going to end soon, and I want to find out where it’s going before it’s gone.  So I follow it to a dark place behind the stage where I am following the chords with another part of my body, one that can see in the dark.  Perhaps this is my soul.  And then I am there.

I think it’s the place where seconds go when we finish living them, where memories reside when we’ve forgotten them.  It’s a room, like Hermione’s bag, endless, and forever filling with children’s laughter, strange dreams, sorrow and smiles.  Perhaps it’s where unicorns and dragons have decided to remain until time itself is finished and has been stuffed inside the room like uncoiled ribbon.  I think this room is found in that careful space between awake and sleeping, where dreams are just beginning to spark into existence.  It is kept safe between the lips of lovers and squeezed between the sighs of ecstasy that escape one’s lips during an orgasm.

If when we die we get to go to our own personal Heaven, I think I would like to go to this room, if only to visit it for a little while.  I can almost imagine the bliss of wrapping music around myself like passionate hugs from friends you haven’t seen in a very, very long time.  I picture the joy of seeing millions of film projectors playing memories that have been forgotten and abandoned.  And oh my stars, the library of discarded books that must be there.  Works of literature left behind, tossed away, unknown to the readers of the future–this room’s walls would be made of every ounce of happiness every felt by a human being.  It would be lit with every wish made on a star, in front of lit candles, and at specified moments during the night.  To die, and to stand in this room, watching every wonder and work from the first moment the universe ticked into being…perfection.

This is what I think about all the time.

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