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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Avalanche Appreciation


A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a waiting room, where a TV played tranquil nature scenes. Flowing images of springtime meadows filled with colorful wildflowers and classical music playing in the background.  Next on the loop was a babbling brook, cobblestones being washed by the sparkling stream. After watching it for a few minutes, I found myself settling into a peaceful state of mind.
Suddenly, the scene changed to a wintry avalanche. My relaxation was jarred and I stared in disbelief at the screen. Why would the makers of this video choose such a destructive element to be nestled into these comforting scenes of nature? What would be next—a dazzling volcano? The dancing waters of a tsunami?
As I puzzled over this scene, I recognized the accompanying music. It was from the Overture from the opera Carmen. Hearing it reminded me of my grade school class of Music Appreciation, my least favorite.   I didn’t care for the teacher, nor did I like any of the boring, dull classical music that was played in it. Then, we were assigned to pick out our favorite classical music piece and present it to the class.  
I had grown up with my mother playing vinyl records of Country Western—I knew by heart the songs of Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Eddy Arnold.  That being said, I thought there wasn’t any room for me to expand my music appreciation. I was stumped on the assignment and asked my father for help. He recommended Carmen and pulled out a record that had the Overture on it. The minute I heard the triumphant violins and stirring symbols, I was hooked! I realized there was something great about classical music-- I just needed to see it in a different light.
After this memory faded, I looked again at the television screen that still played the avalanche. I watched the snow rapidly tumbling from the mountain and realized it looked like a frosty waterfall (Waterfalls are my favorite natural occurrence--I could watch a waterfall all day long!) I was amazed to admit the avalanche was indeed spectacular. There were no hapless skiers or woodland creatures on the bottom of the mountain that would feel its wrath. This scene was strictly showing the natural course of an avalanche, the billowing snow galloping down the mountain, leaving a pristine blanket of white.  I was glad I changed my point of view and looked at it objectively--otherwise I would have missed its beauty.
As the credits rolled on this video, I decided the director and camera crew weren’t so silly including this wintry avalanche.
Oh, no, the camera crew! Did they get injured filming? Wait, it’s okay, the credits didn’t show “In loving memory of…” Now, back to enjoying the feeling of tranquility!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

In memory of Whitney



Last night, I turned on Headline News. As I watched the program, the news scroll below caught my eye. It read “Houston sold over 170 million albums….”  I recognized it was referring to Whitney Houston. I thought this was an odd news item. Why would they mention this fact about Whitney Houston? Didn’t everyone know she sold countless albums with her powerful voice?
Then I saw in the caption before it “Breaking news.”  Immediately, I felt my stomach sink, preparing for some bad news. Sure enough, the next line appeared “Whitney Houston found dead in Beverly Hilton Hotel room, she was 48 years old.” As I watched the newscast, I felt very sorry for the family she left behind, especially her daughter.
I found this news unbelievable and unreal, no matter how many glamorous images of Whitney in happier days appeared on the screen and the anchor man’s voice giving the up to the minute details.  As they played clips of her songs, I realized how her songs were like the soundtrack of my high school and college days. IWanna  Dance with Somebody reminded me of my summer break from Notre Dame Academy.  I Will Always Love You was playing on the radio when I got a ride from a classmate at UNLV, who warbled along to the song.  
Her distinctive voice was a wonderful gift. I take great comfort that her music has been preserved for all of us to share.   Please find my favorite Whitney Houston song, For the Love of You. Her lovely voice and saxophone sounds are timeless. I hope she finds peace.