Life's little lessons · The Cork Board

It sits there, in my mind, smirking….


Once in a while as we blissfully glide through our freeform lives we experience moments that are at once so enriching and moving that they form a part of our make-up. They become a part of who we are since this enrichment sits there, quietly smirking, in the back our minds.  “Gotcha there, didn’t I,” it says – if an experience can speak. These moments fill empty holes that we didn’t even know were there until the hole was filled.

They can happen frequently as children, innocent as we are, and are harder to find as we get older, wiser, and more experienced in life. I remember clearly when my life first jolted and knew that it would be different from then on. An enriching moment.

In the summer of 1967 I was 13, finding my way, learning about me and what I was like. I already knew I liked music and strummed to the point of boredom. The charts were full of Englebert Humperdinck, Anita Harris, Sandie Shaw et al. I used to hang around the Art Room at school since that’s where the older “cooller” kids hung.

One sunny day a good friend of mine gave me a copy of “Are you Experienced” by Jimi Hendrix.

 I’d never heard him. The cover looked kind of aggressive and subversive and my friend, also called Jim, said I had to hear this.

I took it home, hooked up the Dansette needle, and turned it up a little. The opening track was “Foxey Lady”. I was in shock. I’d never heard anyone play like this. I remember telling everyone in the house (it was a small house) to shut up and listen. I don’t know whether or not they appreciated my secondhand guidance. (My poor Mum!) See ? This so affected me I can recall just about every detail. ( I won’t bore you.)

Such moments have happened infrequently as I grew up. A hole has been filled by my experiencing a superb exhibition of Piet Mondrian’s work.

And another by discovering the work of Brassai.

A couple of years ago it happened again. You see, it’s their rarity that makes them special. I had decided that I wanted to “study” the work of Miles Davis, who I reckon, in modern parlance, was a genius. I bought the ultimate biography by Ian Carr and set about reading it whilst stopping off to listen to each album in chronological order. I would stop reading – listen – and move on.  I had reached 1970 in his oeuvre (though I was listening about 2007). “Bitches Brew” had come and gone and I had reached “A tribute to Jack Johnson” .

I was driving to work and decided to play the cd for the first time, loudish, as was my wont. Woh, from the very beginning, I mean that, “Right Off”, I was stunned. I thought it was brilliant. I reached work, pulled into the car park, and sat and listened to the rest. (We were on flexitime so it was okay, though my colleagues wondered why I had parked up and not gone into the Office.) Sometimes you just have to stop the World. And something happens. Enriched. Hole filled. Now it sits there, quietly in the back of my mind, smirking.

21 thoughts on “It sits there, in my mind, smirking….

  1. Very nice post Mr Monkey, I now find myself thinking about my own such ‘aha!’ moments……
    Music and art are up there in your scheme of things, I see 🙂
    Loved the last paragraph. And the title of course!

  2. Living from 1996 to 2005 in Switzerland I wasn’t very au fait with UK pop culture, this being the days before broadband and satellite TV. Very good friend J. Hunter was want to quote from the Fast Show when we (infrequently) met, quotes which went way over my head. Until that is re-runs started appearing on BBC Europe. Perhaps not as profound as Miles or Jimi, but an “aha!” moment all the same.

    1. Hey Tim, thanks for stopping by and commenting. Those “aha” moments make us feel alive. I never got the Fast Show either (probably in bed too early !) until I started picking up the re-runs. Sadly, nothing improves upon Python at their best. 🙂

  3. I loved this one! I have those moments in my life too, Al. Wonderful “smirking” friends. This is kind of like the moment I wrote about on my “Bits and Pieces – Beginning With My Very First Time” page. I was a little kid then and much more open, like you said. I’m working at staying open.

  4. Oh, I love this idea, and the way you’ve described it! I’ll have to have a think about what my defining discoveries have been. Hmm. Off the top of my head, The Incredibles and its soundtrack, Bach several times (Invention #8 when I was very young — I was dying to learn it for years before I was ready, then Yo-Yo Ma’s version of the Cello Suites when I was in high school, and Glenn Gould’s Goldberg Variations around then too), Beethoven several times too (Für Elise when I was quite young too, then Piano Sonata #17, and then Piano Concerto #4), Última Vez… oh dear, this is going to be long list, isn’t it. I’ll have to compile the full thing another time!

    And oh man, now I’m listening to “Right Off,” and that is some GOOD stuff! No wonder you just sat and listened!

    1. Wow, what a list. I love Yo-Yo Ma and The Goldberg Variations. The Inventions and Piano Sonatas I’m not too familiar with. Then Ultima Vez – this looks great. I really enjoy modern dance though rarely get to see it unfortunately (Fi is a bit traditional when it comes to dance 🙂 ) and I’m always struck by the absolute trust dancers have in each other when there’s slapping and tossing of bodies and so on. Glad you liked “Right Off” . It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but it’s a piece that grabs you by the throat and dares you to leave. The full piece is about 30 mintues (or just less) and slows down at the 10 or 11 minute mark. Stunning.
      Thanks for the kind comments, Lisa, and putting you list here. 🙂

      1. I love modern dance too, but I don’t often see it because I’m picky and I hate to be disappointed. 😉 Which is another way of saying I’m a snob about what I like — it makes my skin creep to dislike a performance and be surrounded by people gushing about it. Unflattering about me, but true. The dancers’ trust in each other you mention was on full display during the Última Vez show I saw; not only did they throw each other around, but they threw bricks, too.

        I’m going to think more about my lists and maybe do my own post on this sometime! 🙂 Thank you for the inspiration!

  5. Wow! This totally hit me right. Made me feel young again (maybe young isn’t quite right. Connected? Inspired? Like I just plugged into the universe?) just like those moments you were describing. Funny how it’s usually musical, although sometimes it’s words on a page (maybe because they’re musical?). Thanks for this!

    1. Thannks, Anna. I’m glad I hooked you. Yes, true that it’s often music that catches us. It must be a sensory thing I guess. But words and prose grab us too when they create unforgetable images. Many years ago I was reading a copy of “Glimmer Train” (is it still around) and a short story included an image of kids fooling around by throwing empty bottles at the face of one them who was wearing a full-face welding mask. Of course, the bottles always smashed and the kid was unhurt. But that image – just sits there – smirking.

  6. hi smm hope you have a great weekend i listen to music and watch dvds if it makes my heart skip a beat then im hooked i love ozzy and one time i was mad on kate bush and her heathecliffe if it stirs something then alls good xxjen

  7. Music can give us those moments of light in the strangest places…similiar to a Grateful Dead line (I don’t recall the exact quote LOL) Miles Davis, Jimi…oh wow! I find even all these years later I am in awe when I listen to some of the music, lyrics and how young we all were. There is wisdom all along the road. Good post. 😀

    1. Thanks Raven, you are right. There is wisdom all along the road and yep, the music still sounds good. “Sometimes you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right”. And I’m chuffed you quoted a line from the Dead back at me. Well done. I’m still occassionally having those moments but not so often and when they do happen, they tend to be generated by men/women – not machines. (Word to the wise, kids ! )

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s