Saturday, May 5, 2007

Mr. Excitement

I was listening to an NPR feature this morning about the death of Tommy Newsom, a member of the Doc Severinsen Tonight Show band.
Johnny Carson called Tommy Newsom "Mr. Excitement" because he seemed to be such a quiet, bland person. Of course he wasn't, really. The person who was interviewed this morning - I didn't catch his name, but he was a friend of Mr. Newsom's - talked about his intellect, his wit, and his skill as a saxophonist, particularly on the soprano saxophone.
I didn't even know there was such an instrument! They played an excerpt of Newsom playing one, though, and it was incredibly beautiful.
Tommy Newsom focused on jazz, and his friend talked about his ability to hear music within the music; he talked about the way Newsom could improvise and expand on what was there so that a listener would wonder, "Why didn't I hear that there before?"
What a gift that is - to see beyond what is really there; to hear what isn't seen or said or played but, once seen or heard is recognized as having been there all along.
I think sometimes that part of our job as human beings is to pay attention so closely to the life all around us that we perceive what isn't apparent, but is nevertheless truly there - God's presence, the imperceptible goodness and blessing that overcomes evil and despair - to hold those things lightly, but take them seriously . . .
What would life be like if we saw and heard those things that aren't readily seen or heard, those extra elements of beauty, strength, and power all around us, all the time?

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