Constant Reader will remember my brutal fall on the ice in January and the mystifying soundtrack that has inhabited my skull ever since. After nine months’ time, during which the music has morphed from one personality to another, and countless days when I’ve found myself astonished that Kim can’t hear it because it’s so overwhelming and all-enveloping, I’ve finally stumbled across an answer that resonates with me.
It’s a passage from THE NIX, by Nathan Hill, in a scene from the tumultuous 1960 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Allen Ginsberg has seated himself cross-legged in the grass, palms raised to the universe, listening, as the hordes of protesting flower children stream past him toward an unseen ambush.
“He wants to soothe them. ‘The way forward is like water.’ But he knows it isn’t good enough, isn’t radical enough to calm the wild appetite of the young. And so Ginsberg strokes his beard, closes his eyes, settles into his body, and answers in the only way he can, with a deep bellow from the bottom of his belly, the great Syllable, the sacred sound of the universe, the perfection of wisdom, the only noise worth making at a time like this: Ommmmm.
“He feels the hot holy breath in his mouth, the lifted-up music breath released from his lungs and his gullet, from his guts and heart, his stomach, his red blood cells and kidneys, from his gallbladder and glands and the long spindly legs he sits on, the Syllable issues from all these things. If you listen quietly and carefully, if you are calm and you slow down your heart, you can hear the Syllable in everything – the walls, the street, the cars, the soul, the sun – and soon you are no long chanting. Soon the sound settles into your skin and you are simply hearing the body make the sound it has always made: Ommmmm.”
The music inside my head is simply the sound my body has always made, and when I’m intentional about calming every cell and listening it sounds like Ommmmm, the sacred sound of the universe. It’s a G-major and I would deeply miss it now if it ever went away…