If you take a good look around, in most people’s lives you will find an ensemble. Some may call it your team, some may call it wherewithal, some may say they are a ‘self made man’ and have no need for such things. I do not think I have met anyone who has attained safety or success or realised a fraction of their dreams without the backing of an ensemble.
Pick a person and look really closely at their lives and you will find those who have got their back, who they can trust. An ensemble made perhaps of financial security, or of a safe family home to return to, a close knit geographical or religious community, or some solid life long friends who will never leave them hanging.
Those who I have met who really struggle to get by, for years on end, those with little hope, they are the ones who seem not to have much of an ensemble. Perhaps because they never have, or because they are now estranged, or because they cannot hear it, even if its playing right by their ear – singing ‘we are here’.
There have been times in my life when I assumed the ensemble was there but then turned around to find it gone, diminished, the sound faded, muted. I was devasted to find myself sing alone. I couldn’t do it really. I did not fare very well. I sounded crap. Everything was crap. And those who knew me well could tell, like ‘where has her music gone?’ Little by little my ensemble has re-grouped, it looks different to what it did before, I’ve learnt some new tunes too, but I never doubt that I need them there. Every one of them. They help me sing my song. I cannot explain why the hard things happen. But how well we cope or not? Our ensemble will determine that. So I hope in turn I make up part of the ensemble in others lives. I can do this with a fierceness I cannot always muster for myself.
I read some words recently that brought instant tears of recognition to my eyes. They are taken from the book by Raynor Winn ‘The Salt Path’ ‘
The shock of good news is almost as powerful as the shock of bad news’.
I love her for writing this. I felt understood and heard and reassured by these words. I’ve been trying to explain this but not able to express it. When things have been crap for so long and you feel boring even saying it because you just sound like a moaner, but then you say to yourself
‘who would do well under these circumstances?’
and you can’t think of anyone. And you know it is possible for things to be better but this seems unobtainable and then suddenly out of nowhere comes good news, it feels foreign, unreal, like
‘is this really for me?’.
It bothers me when folk say ‘my friend deserves it, they have worked so hard’. I know these words are true, but also what is often true is they are standing next to another friend who has fought just as hard and for whom things have not fallen into place. And so I am curious about the phrase ‘They earnt this’.
Because both friends deserved goodness.
We all do.
It helps to remember this because when things fall apart it doesn’t mean it is because you didn’t try hard enough, or because you were somehow inadequate. I have had to put aside the nagging inner voice that said, ‘well things are not working about because you are undeserving, you have missed something, you made the wrong choice.’ And so good news can be hard to believe and accept because it is hard not to panic about when the next storm will hit. Hard not to feel like we’re just living on borrowed ‘good time’ until the familiar disappointment sets in. But I’ve found if I live like this I become one of my most feared things a ‘joy hoover’. Hoovering up all the joy in my own life before I’ve let it bed in for a bit. Afraid to let it settle, afraid to let go, afraid to trust this good, precious moment. The good precious moment which will feed my soul, which will replenish me, like all good gifts do, if we let them. I am learning to live not panicked, breathlessly in the top half of my lungs, awaiting the next disaster. But more slowly, more deeply, trusting in the goodness that comes, trusting that the next breath will come. This next full, fresh, life giving breath will power my song and be met in the air with resounding voices of my ensemble.
For together, we sing.