There are so many voices of my life. They inspire me, they clear my head, they make me feel. I absolutely love music. Today I was doing some Algebra on the couch with Tirzah…. I had my headphones in, and I was singing along with all four movements of Beethoven’s fifth symphony… and pretending I knew how to conduct. I did it because the music enthralled me. I made her laugh, partly because I couldn’t hear myself sing and probably sounded very sharp through the — ahem — shall we say difficult passages.
There is another song that inspires me to the -enth degree. Listen to it.
I cannot tell you… how… amazing that is to me. How wonderful. As Bugs Bunny would say, “I have goosebumps, on my goosebumps.”
I realized that music like this song and Beethoven’s fifth form the voices of our lives. I mean that they are the most inspirational—the ones we listen to over and over and over again. The voices of our lives… it sounds beautiful, but it also does not imply that they are good voices.
In the beginning of the Silmarillion, in the thought of Iluvatar, the Ainur spun him a melody that was glorious. Together they created a chorused that pleased Iluvatar. But Melkor, one of the highest Holy ones, had it in his thought to create his own melody, and not follow the one that Iluvatar had instructed. Therefore, he began to spin and weave, and the theme was no longer melodious, and the Ainur sensed a powerful music being played. Melkor’s self-will was great, and he challenged Iluvatar to a duel of Melodies.
“Then Iluvatar rose, and the Ainur perceived that he smiled; and he lifted up his left hand, and a new theme began amid the storm, like and yet unlike to the former theme, and it gathered power an had new beauty. But the discord of Melkor rose in uproar and contended with it, and again there was a war of sound more violent than before, until many of the Ainur were dismayed and sang no long, and Melkor had mastery. Then again Iluvatar arose, and the Ainur perceived that his countenance was stern; and he lifted up his right hand, and behold! a third theme grew amid the confusion, and it was unlike the others. For it seemed at first soft and sweet, a mere rippling of gentle sounds in delicate melodies; but it could not be quenched, and it took to itself power and profundity. And it seemed at last that there were two musics progressing at one time before the seat of Iluvatar, and they were utterly at variance. The one was deep and wide and beautiful, but slow and blended with an immeasurable sorrow, from which its beauty chiefly came. The other had no achieved a unity of its own; but it was loud, and vain, and endlessly repeated; and it had little harmony, but rather a clamorous unison as of many trumpets braying upon a few notes. And it essayed to drown the other music by the violence of its voice, but it seemed that its most triumphant notes were taken by the other and woven into its own solemn patter.
In the midst of this strive, whereat the halls of Iluvatar shook and a tremor ran out into the silences yet unmoved, Iluvatar arose a third time, and his face was terrible to behold. Then he raised up both his hands, and in one chord, deeper than the Abyss, higher than the Firmament, piercing as the light of the eye of Iluvatar, the Music ceased.
Iluvatar told Melkor that no one could invent a theme that did not have its uttermost roots in himself, and he threw him out.
There are voices in our lives, and not necessarily songs, that are like Melkor’s melody. They bring discord, they are loud and violent, making more noise than anything. But there are voices in your head that inspire you to do good, to think wonderful things, voices that turn your head to all things wonderful and beautiful, voices that bring you back to the center of everything: to the Creator. These voices are things that guide you, that influence you.
So then there’s the bad voices. What a clever discrimination—the good voices, and the bad voices. Well, what would you have said? For these bad voices, I cannot name any one element of intellectual study or cultural products because it changes for each person, depending on their strengths and weaknesses. But we must be wary of what our Voices are. We must be ever so careful… and we must always ask if it matches Iluvatar’s melody, to use the metaphoric image.
Just remember the three aspects of Iluvatar’s melody… Truth, beauty, and goodness. This famous guideline doesn’t say happiness, or sorrow, or non-violence, or violence… but if it fits into those three aspects, it is probably a beautiful and wise Voice.