In our world today, there are simultaneously polarising tendencies and we are waking up to our mutual connectedness. In The Secret Lives of Plants (Tomkins &Bird, 1989) a character plays classical music to the cacti in his home. And as a result, the cacti start shedding their own thorns. The idea that music could help to shed thorns as collective consciousness blossoms, offers us an image of hope. We simply cannot afford to live on a planet facing so many shared challenges and continue to hurt each other with our thorns. There is simply too much collaboration to be done for us to be separated by prickly egos.
Music has the potential to dissolve and transform the hardness of our hearts and reduce the separation between us. We can create the possibility for human beings to own the paradoxes, the ambiguities, the dreams and the fears in their individual lives, and design the context where we can engage in profound connection. It is in the offering of self through music in a relational setting, that the wounds that still hurt can be owned, shared and be transformed.
Music is a language which is large and generous enough to hold the spiritual and the secular, dissonance and harmony, paradox and ambiguity, power and vulnerability. Music expresses the universal and the particular, the sacred and the profane, the revolutionary and the conservative, the sublime and the ridiculous, the gross and the subtle, the beautiful and the ugly. As a mirror of life music can be profoundly accurate. Used as an additional language for connection it offers valuable potential for sowing the seeds for growth and transformation individually and collectively.
This reflection comes from Barbara’s new chapter, Finding Us in Music: A Method for Deeper Group Engagement in Handbook on Individual and Organizational Transformation, edited by Judi Neale (Springer, 2017).