By Gary Kehoe
Sitting amongst a quarter-full audience I see 13 students swinging bells back and forth, conducting a serene rendition of the “Westminster Chimes.” One of the marshmallows I brought falls out of my ears and I can suddenly hear the performance. It isn’t quite what I am used to, nor what I would seek out, but since the marshmallow has rolled under the seat in front of me I have no choice but to listen. I get to thinking. Is the sound made for me? No. Seeing the musicians so absorbed in their art, I think again that perhaps it isn’t being done for anyone else either. They are not concerned about who sees or hears their music but are fulfilled by the mere reverberations off the theatre walls, the vibrations they feel in their chests. Nagging hand-bell choir, were it not for my article in the Signal you wouldn’t even have known I was there —but thank you for the gift.
I was not aware the extent to which talent and passion are readily available on campus. I see it on the Crew team and I see it in Bliss Hall because I share those pursuits. It was not until I began covering events for the Signal, however, that I recognized the abundance of passion different from my own.
I continue to learn that an appreciation for others’ passion is as valuable as having passion of one’s own. The privilege of witnessing this is a gift being offered right under your nose.
It’s like going to a beautiful cathedral as an atheist to admire the architecture. Was the place built for you? No. Does it care if you are present? Certainly not (especially if you leave without dropping a five in the altar box), yet the church is still sublime and it offers you something —a fulfillment in being a privileged audience to the passion which the spectacle is content with having all to itself.
I’ve sat in a small classroom and watched a professor who travelled from India rave about black holes and multiplexes, at peace in his own head which to me seemed to work like a pinball machine.
He spoke for two hours. For me, the English major, wondering “What the huh-fuck is this guy talking about”? Or for the physics majors whom I like to believe were wondering the same thing? Nope.
I watched Jive Poetic move mountains with his voice, indifferent to whether the mountains were moved. I watched this man transform life experience into art and belt it into a Rathskeller of maybe 15 or 20 people. He left a day job for that.
I’ve seen professional musicians cross state lines to join student performers in concerts whose audiences could not fill the first 10 rows. I’ve spoken with alumni who made the same trek to hear something they wrote years ago.
I and everyone else have walked past a man on a street corner mastering an old instrument he probably found.
I’ve heard myself complain of being bored. “What the huh-fuck am I talking about?”
Though I will most likely still put marshmallows in my ears, I am grateful to the hand-bell choir for inspiring me to write this. My resolution: Seek passion. There is a gift being offered to you in that church or on that street corner or on that stage which is more rewarding than any you could box or bag.