Mountains, despite their immovability, seem to change over time. But I’ve come to realize that it is not the mountains but ourselves that are changing.
Every time I see mountains they look different. Even if I am seeing the same ones, they evoke a different feeling each time I encounter them. And it goes beyond the changing seasons or the time of day. Every time I get to go backpacking, it means something different to me.
I think this is because the world is bound up in a changing type of perception. Even something as static as a mountain is constantly being rethought and reconceptualized and therefore its identity changes. Maybe a mountain inspires an artist to paint a beautiful picture. Maybe it inspires someone to lose weight so that they can climb it. Maybe it provides a needed respite from someone’s otherwise anxiety-ridden life. In these instances it takes on different forms: inspiration, motivation, reprieve.
And this is true of many things. What we see as static objects are actually governed by an ever-changing process. Seemingly unchanging material is entwined with so many different perceptions, memories, and emotions that it is never static.
This is especially true of music. A piece of music often seems as static as a mountain. But the processes governing that material are anything but regular. From conceiving a piece to writing it down, a performer interpreting it, to an audience perceiving it, a work of music is far from concrete. And this is a highly simplified description of the imperceptibly infinite world in which we are but one operator.
Musicians often talk about seeing a piece a different way or finding something new every time they perform it. It is because they are a different person every time they approach a work. We are bound up with a constantly changing set of perceptions. And each time a piece is played, it is influenced by a constantly changing set of processes.
There is a common bit of advice given to both backpackers and performers of music: “Live in the moment.” If we are to truly follow this advice, we must live in the processual moment. We must tap into the infinite, complex rethinking of objects as dynamic entities.
We must realize that mountains do indeed change as do ourselves.
(Featured image from allposterimages.com)