Where to start… I might start with a question: in the midst of chaos, do I find peace? The past few weeks of Brexit nationalism, Orlando shootings, the brutal murder of an MP – do I find peace? I find myself questioning the world around me and searching for light. Certainly, the outpouring of love around the world shown in vigils held for those victims brings me some hope in the darkness. I was particularly cheered by London’s West End Theatre casts who created the “Love is love” video to the song “All you need is love”.
It is so hard not to get caught up in the chaos around us – every day we hear of acts of terror, hate crimes, violence, anger. When I am on the verge of being consumed by the chaos, what stops me from drowning? I think it is in the cracks of this broken world that we find the space for something beautiful to grow.
It was in a homeless day centre that I took my keyboard on the bus to Waterloo and made music with over 100 homeless men and women. I will never forget in that room of complicated lives and desperate situations, a man coming forward and volunteering to do a solo – he sang “Amazing Grace” with a most beautiful and unexpected tenor voice, from the body of a man in rags. The crowd went wild for him and everyone joined in, in their different languages all at once, and for those moments at least, we were all joined by music, in that moment life’s troubles ceased to exist.
I am in the privileged position with my job that I get to go to operas, recitals and concerts regularly and hear some of the world’s greatest classical musicians of our day. Within those performances, there are moments of magic which can take away the stresses and strains of the day. Music encompasses the width and breadth of human emotion – it can heal, it can bring joy, it can unite, it can move us, it can inspire. I find huge peace in sitting at a piano, improvising and writing songs about whatever is on my mind. I find peace walking in my local park and acknowledging the beauty that exists – springtime flowers, the latest arrival of ducklings, children playing and laughing with friends, teenagers trying to be ‘cool’, elderly couples hand in hand – and it makes me smile. I also find great solace in writing poems.
Chaos and brokenness give way to opportunity – the opportunity to choose war or peace. I choose peace.