Thursday, June 1, 2023


 Leaving oneself open to the possibilities of serendipitous happenstance, then embracing it when the opportunity presents, is key to enjoying life as we age.


Today’s case in point:


While gathering the ingredients to make chili, I discovered I had no celery. (Full recipe available upon request in comments.) I hadn’t planned on going to the store, and someone as OCD as I am can be does not like such abrupt schedule changes.


The Beloved Spouse™ most recently drove the car, which meant the radio was on. (I rarely listen to the radio when driving. I like the quiet time to shout at other drivers.) She tends to alternate between the local news and classical stations. My hand was already reaching for the Power button when I recognized Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.


This, I’ll listen to.


I considered staying in the car in the supermarket’s parking lot until the piece ended, but it was still early in the second movement and I had things to do. I waited until the trumpets played their melody, then ran in for my celery and a couple of donuts.


In the car the third movement had started. I was about to settle in when the man who’d been in front of me in line hollered for my attention. He’d locked his keys in his truck; could I give him a lift to his apartment? It’s just up the hill. Not much in the mood for the interruption – he’d already proven he’d chat with a rock – I also couldn’t leave a man with a portable oxygen tank stranded.


Fortunately I knew exactly where he lived; The Beloved Spouse™ and I considered getting my parents to move there when the stairs made their house too dangerous. (We failed, of course. My parents were even stubborner than I am.) I took him home and turned the radio back on about halfway into the exposition of the fourth movement. I took the scenic route home and sat in my parking spot an extra minute to hear the ending.


Gary Bird, my undergrad Music Lit teacher, said that Beethoven 5 was the most perfect piece of music ever written. He said the Ninth was a greater, but any change made to the Fifth would diminish it. I can’t argue with that, but, to me, Beethoven 5 is the greatest, and most perfect, piece of music ever written.


I am almost overcome with a sense of elation, often to the point of tears, when the brass enter with the main theme of the fourth movement. I was fortunate enough to perform the Fifth twice. Each time the music transcended the abilities of the community orchestras that took it on.


I would have missed it this time had I not needed celery, or been quicker to turn off the radio. Sometimes an unexpected interruption is exactly what we need.

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