I was talking to my friend Alison about the Woody Allen film CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS yesterday– one of my favorite films. In particular we talked about the final image of the recently blinded rabbi, played by Sam Waterston dancing with his daughter at her wedding. The essence of bittersweet – the overarching pain that he can’t behold her in her wedding dress - the delight to be there with her for this important moment - our sense as audience members that life isn’t fair – the good are punished and the wicked lead the life of Reilly. And yet. And yet. There is dancing and life goes on.
Later in the evening I received an email attachment from a friend who has been sending me Ray Charles tunes. I call them my “Ray of the Day” and they are indeed a ray of light. They all tell a different story and seem to fit the mood I’m in when I get them.
Alison and I talked about how artists give us these moments – the rabbi at the wedding, Ray Charles singing Blues in the Night at an impossibly slow tempo, the lines of some of the poems I’ve quoted on this blog – and for a brief moment those works of art lasso that vast, unknowable grief and joy that is life and pull it into this one crystalline moment. We watch a film and we weep, we listen to a beautiful violin piece and the hairs on our arm stand on end, we feast on a writer’s words and in doing so that vastness of this world, this life – as well as it’s insignificance and brevity is right there if just for a moment.
A new friend told me that he never really understood the concept of “bittersweet” until my concert and it made me think. I had hoped someday to make the kind of art that could reveal something so painful and beautiful at the same time that the audience and I could share a knowing, that crystalline moment. Now I feel like I’m living inside one of those moments and how I choose to accept this bittersweet truth will be my art.