The fall equinox is upon us and it’s that time of year when change is in the air. For me, it’s the combination of the actual environment – the chill of the wind and the smell of the leaves and the actual events surrounding them – the Jewish holidays, the start of the school year and a new promotion cycle at work. It’s a time of year for me when I can start to reflect on my personal development and invite in small moments of reflection.
I recently heard a beautiful Hindustani Classical violinist play a sweet tune – which she said was a raga. It’s a type of melody that relies on a set of five or more musical notes, and to my surprise is supposed to be played at specific times of the day or in a certain season in order to have maximum impact.
I love thinking that a specific melody or tune at just the right time can evoke, and invoke a certain feeling or emotion that is perfectly fit for the season. This idea reminds me of the beautiful Kol Nidre service (part of Jewish Day of Atonement) that I went to last week in DC, which took place outside among the trees. The band’s musical notes seemed to sweep through my body as though they were meant to lift me into the air. I felt so moved by the evening’s performance and it gave me pause to think about the beauty in the ritual of the ceremony and how the music inspired me beyond just the words in the prayer book.
Over this past year, I have sought inspiration in many places and from many different people, each one impacting me in a slightly different way. However, it seems as though each person appeared in my life at the exact moment that I needed them to appear. My raga is a collection of these individuals who have come in and out of my life, shaping and informing me in powerful ways.
As the seasons change, it’s the perfect time to think about what else is changing in our lives: nature is a powerful conduit for our emotional state. As time passes and we experience the cycle of life, we need to acknowledge what is before us. According to Frederich Flach, a famous psychiatrist, “Each period of change is necessarily stressful, for it involves conflict between a powerful force that operates to keep things exactly as they’ve been, and another powerful force that commands us to move forward and embrace new conditions.”
While the tension of change can often be stressful, so too can the comfort in knowing that new beginnings are possible… and when better to make the shift, as the earth rotates and the days get shorter; a new raga is playing in the background.
A specific shout-out goes out to Eryn Schultz, who is excited about the fall harvest, and gave me some insight for this post. Also, thanks to the amazing concert by Nistha Raj and Chrisstylez Bacon who got me thinking about music and its harmony with the seasons.