Since I’ve started this blog, I’ve been amazed by how many people have contacted me just to say “Yes! I get it”. I’ve loved receiving each and every text message and email like a big warm, comforting hug. Some have even put aside magazine article clippings or told me about movies that talk about it – this incredibly human and seemingly constant struggle between roots and wings. This happened with a new friend of mine recently. He is an accomplished musician and, as I explained my blog, his eyes lit up and he told me about a solo cellist called Yo-Yo Ma. In 1999, Yo-Yo Ma visited a garden in Kyoto that was designed at the end of the 15th century – the garden consisted of 15 rocks placed amid white sand in groups of two and three. My friend gave me a CD of Yo-Yo Ma, showing me the inside cover where it described the similarities between this garden in Kyoto and the music on the CD. The composers were “striving to find balance between wandering and roots, innovation and tradition”. Talking about the garden, Yo-Yo Ma said:
No single vantage point provides a complete view of all the rocks and in one Zen gloss, the garden’s meaning emerges from contemplating the contradiction implicit in trying to see the whole at any one moment: to take in all the rocks, a viewer must move, but doing so means relinquishing one perspective in order to gain another.
Yo-Yo Ma’s visit led to ruminations about moving and not moving, wandering and roots, in music… But no matter how much one absorbs by wandering, there’s always going to be a piece missing, and that’s the piece that comes from having roots. The best that music can do is to show both. It’s the balance between them that will create something meaningful, because ultimately that’s what we are struggling with forever. It’s the human dilemma, and at the same time, it embodies a continuing human spirit.
The words kind of wash over you beautifully. As I listened to the sounds of the cello, I thought “Yes! I get it” – he’s finding balance of perspective in the music. For me, travelling is exactly that – relinquishing one perspective of the world in order to gain another and then return to your “roots” (whether geographically, emotionally or otherwise) with something meaningful. Yes, travel can be wandering but, as J.R.R. Tolkien says, not all those who wander are lost.