What music do you choose when you are meeting your oncological surgeon to find out how bad things are?
I sit in the waiting room and furiously google Ode to Joy. It seems curious to choose this piece. What joy is there to be had now, of all times?
I find the piece of music and the version I like (Berlin philharmonic, Herbert von Karajan) and dial up the volume in my headphones. I scan the lyrics in German and their translation in English.
I am reminded that even the giants of the world, even our must treasured intellectuals, our most brilliant minds and artists all have to die.
If Beethoven and Mozart and Tchaikovsky had to die, then what am I? Just a fleck in the human continuum. It is comforting. I am no great loss to history, I am no Beethoven. The world will go on without me.
I am disappointed when the surgeon calls us in for our appointment, I am so lost in the music.
“Joy, beautiful spark of the gods, Daughter of Elysium, We enter fire imbibed, Heavenly, thy sanctuary. Thy magic reunites those Whom stern custom has parted; All men will become brothers Under thy gentle wing. May he who has had the fortune To gain a true friend And he who has won a noble wife Join in our jubilation!
Yes, even if he calls but one soul His own in all the world. But he who has failed in this Must steal away alone and in tears. All the world’s creatures Draw joy from nature’s breast; Both the good and the evil Follow her rose-strewn path. She gave us kisses and wine And a friend loyal unto death; She gave lust for life to the lowliest, And the Cherub stands before God.”