for David Bowie – the man who let me hear the Universe – thank you.
It had always troubled the boy why he liked some music and not others. Why, songs which hit him around the face, making him want to scream out in happiness, didn’t even cause a flicker in some eyes. That was a mystery all right, and it had bothered him all of his short life.
So one glorious summer when he was sent to study at the Oracle, on the far side of the river-bank, he had brought the question up with his tutor – she had only smiled and said that like all things in the world, the answer will come to you when you are ready to understand.
He felt that was a poor response to his question but he didn’t want to argue, not with anyone at the school, and so he put his head down and got on with his life.
As he grew, he noticed the same thing with the books and the plays he had read and seen. Being enthusiastic about a piece of work was no guarantee that his friends and family would like the same. What was so different about his heart? Was it that he was stupid and therefore easily led? Or was it, that others in his life were aware of something he wasn’t?
When he had lived on the planet for twenty-one summers, he was asked to name a gift that would be in keeping with his growing stature in the world. He pretended to think about the matter but he had already made his mind up about it when he was five years of age. He knew what he wanted. He wanted to know why some things lit his soul and some things didn’t. He wanted to know why his mind was blown away by notes played in a particular order but some others couldn’t hear what he could hear.
So his father, said that being twenty-one was the age of understanding and that he could go to the Oracle and ask his question.
He spent two days walking to the high building that overlooked the wild seas. When he got there, he grew nervous but nothing was going to stop him in his quest for the truth.
He was shown into a large room which was empty except for a fire which burned bright in the middle. From out of the ether came a voice:
“Ask your question, my son.”
He had assumed he would see the Oracle face-to-face but this wasn’t to be. “Please, ask,” said the voice again.
So he asked his question about why some music danced on his heart but not in others. Why music that lit other folks’ eyes, left him cool – and then asked why it was also true for books and plays and all writings.
The Oracle chuckled a little.
“My son, my earthly son. That is an easy question. It is because of what and who you are. When the Universe was created, the heavier elements in you were made in the centre of large hot stars. Some of your right arm could come from one part of the Universe, and some of your other arm could have come a different part of the skies. Each of us is made up from different stars and so when they talk to us we hear some things and not others.”
The boy wanted to know about the Universe talking.
“Oh my cherished boy, all of it, all the music, books, plays, writings, songs, art is the Universe talking to us all. Some people can hear the Universe and this translates into songs. Some people are deaf to the Universe and hear it all through other souls like themselves who translate it for them in words and music. Some souls can hear everything the Universe has to say and some may only hear a little. And the fact that you are made up of different parts of the sky means that you resonate to different notes, whereas your brother may be made of parts of other stars and he hears their tunes. It is that simple. You are a child of the universe, my son, and it is only letting you know it exists.”
And with that, the boy understood. Music was the Universe’s way of letting him know it was there and his heart danced to those parts of the Universe from which he had been made.
bobby stevenson 2016