My son has this interesting theory about energy – maybe it has been around even before he thought it up, I don’t know . He strongly believes that there is an energy in human beings that comes out through art, any form of art, and remains as a perpetual source of energy for as long as the work of art exists. If mankind can come up with a way to tap this energy, then that is the ultimate solution to the current and impending energy crisis in the world. He has been trying this theory on me, his father, his friends, even his ten-year-old brother… anybody who’d listen.
I do find his theory interesting. I listen to him, speculate on the possibility, even while a part of my mind is trying to figure out what to cook for dinner, and yet another part, how to go about teaching persuasive writing to seventh graders. “Maybe…” “Yes, it’s possible…” “But the ‘how’ part is the challenge…” I respond at appropriate times, as he throws out ideas and hypotheses.
A couple of months ago, I had the rare opportunity to be at a live performance. I must mention that my exposure to live performances has been severely limited – I can count them on my fingers. That is, if I ignore all those devotional music performances that my mother used to drag me to when I was around 5 or 6 when all I wanted was to play, or run around, or read a book, or even get back to bed and sleep. The few that I had been to as an adult had taken place in large auditoriums or in open air, with thronging crowds responding in large gestures to larger-than-life artists. I had rocked and cheered and screamed with the crowds, felt the almost atomic levels of energy emanating from the stage and the throngs. Yes – come to think of it, there was no doubt about the short, intense bursts of energy that emanated from the artists and their art at every one of those performances.
There was, however, a relief in getting away from it all. Though the high of each performance had lasted me at least a day, I was always glad when the show came to an end. There was comfort in the comparative silence of home. That was why I always viewed my very meagre invites to live shows with mixed feelings.
‘The Fridge’, however, was the anti-thesis of all that I had experienced previously – a small stage with four or five rows of seats facing it, almost austere décor, low decibel levels, dim lights and a refreshing feel of intimacy. I took to the place even before I sat down. There was something soothing about the very air there.
The spotlight came on and I sat mesmerised as the tall, lanky, cellist who had, minutes ago, looked perfectly ordinary, transformed into an iridescent beauty the moment she started playing. The cello became an extension of her being, and she was grace personified. To my untrained ears, it sounded as if she was chanting an ancient mantra, invoking the divine in all of us. The artist had mentioned that the sound of the cello was closest to the human voice in terms of pitch, a fact I found easy to accept as I sat listening to the notes that flowed from her cello. The visuals that played in the background, mixed live by talented hands, looked ethereal. It felt as if someone was reaching out and touching the core of my being.
There certainly was an invisible something present in the air – call it aura, call it energy, it was there. It radiated from the artist in potent waves, at once calming and tantalising, and cast a spell on the audience. At the end of each piece, spontaneous applause broke out from the audience; not the feverish response from an excited crowd, but the awed tribute to something amazing. To a person like me whose music was limited to what was stored in the 2 GB memory chip in her mobile phone, it was art at its sublime best.
Coming back to my son’s theory on energy – though he feels that I’m limiting his all-encompassing hypothesis.
I wonder if somebody, somewhere, has already found a way to sustain the feeling of contentment and well-being that the couple of hours in a converted warehouse had given me that day. I would love to hold on to the magic, and use it as a perpetual source of energy – especially on those days when the demands of the mundane seem to drain every drop of life force within…