“Your ear is a muscle,” said Paul, the ukulele workshop tutor.
To be alive is for the muscles of your ears to engage their most minute fibres to keep you balanced. Sometimes, you are a fiddler, balanced on a tightrope of septuplets and bodhrán with just enough give that you may make a calculated small hop and keep your footing. Sometimes, you are a guitar, balanced in the middle seat of a car packed to the roof with banjos and flutes and boxes. Sometimes, you are a blues harp, balanced on a rough circle of plain, equidistant stepping stones which you help decorate while mandolin does cartwheels and summersaults on them and then plops back down while you take your turn. Sometimes, you forget that you were supposed to be balancing. This might lead to an entertaining gymnastics of recovery, or might alternatively derail you from your tightrope or seat or stepping stone. Sometimes, the best parts are where you know you don’t have to balance right now and you choose not to, to sit on the sidelines and let the acrobatics wash over you, to swap seats and curl up with a pillow by the window, to sit on the warm, moist grass just beyond the circle.
Sometimes, you feel most alive when music is balancing you and unbalancing you and just letting you be. I got back from the Auckland Folk Festival today 1am and I felt oh so alive all weekend.