Nine lives

From the first tentative four notes of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony [June 2, 2017], I was caught up in the Omaha Symphony Orchestra’s performance on Friday, . Mahler must have felt the pressures of living and dying as he composed this long paean to mortality, almost as if he felt it was his last chance to make a statement. It’s almost as if he, and you and I, wait for the fifth note, the completion of the musical phrase.

Much has been said about this work, but what I couldn’t shake was the thought the Mahler mattered.

That led to a fixation on the conjugation of the verb.

You matter. Mahler mattered. Artists matter and mattered. On and on the conjugation goes. Mahler’s four notes carry on and carry on. It matters.

Black holes swallow each other up and send gravity waves across the universe. That matters.

A flap of a butterfly’s wings also sets off a pattern. It may or may not affect the global climate. But, that butterfly and that stroke across the air matters, mattered, will matter.

Too much attention to the little stuff, indeed the big stuff, that matters can lead to a trip to the looney bin, but that sensibility must always be present.

I matter, in my work as an editor, in my work in the back yard, as I fix bicycles. You certainly matter, in any task you do. The third person matters. He, she and it no longer define, but that third person matters.

What I do, what you do, what that third person does matters. It’s small, certainly. It may be a symphony, a life’s work, certainly. It is everything as mundane as tying a shoe or as grand as winning a major battle or a peace prize. But, it matters.

So, my Sunday thoughts haven’t strayed far from that lengthy conjugation: I, you, we, they have a place. It matters.

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