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The lights dim, shadowing the eager faces of the audience from view, their focus seemingly fixated on a single person; you. You can’t make out their features, but a quick skim of the scattered silhouettes reveals the shadow of your family hidden among the crowd, faces light up with shining, expectant grins. Its hard to suppress your own nervous smile, but you force it down and hold the silent, prestigious gaze into the crowd. You try to ignore the hundreds of eyes bearing down at you, because you know that their eager stare would be too overwhelming - simply too much to take in.
Distinctly, you notice the conductor saunter to the center of the stage and give a deep, luxurious bow, before turning back to face you and your colleagues. Widening his timid smile, the conductor raises his hands into the air, and like puppets tugged by their strings, you and your peers lift your instruments into the air. You are ready for this; to fill the hollowed silence that hovers as an expectant barrier between the players and the listeners. You are ready to carve that silence into a masterpiece; but at the same time, you are terrified that it may only be a mistake.
This is it. This is where everything - your weekly rehearsals and nightly practices without relent - either pay off, or turn out to be all for nothing.
You hold your breath, savoring the tense moment of silence that fills the stage; hesitant, but wanting. You hold it as the conductor shapes his hands with the inklings of beginning. You hold it until the first note strikes through the silence and launches the listeners into a whole other dimension. And then; release.
Each note is a story, with its own personality. Some start rampant and taper into silence, while others quake the room and carve out your being with their ferocity. You are familiar with these notes and have written their story, but you have to believe in that story to make it reality.
As you stretch your purpose and will over the song, note after note and story after story, you start to find yourself winding down an abandoned path, wandering aimlessly in the midst of timid rainfall as the forest around you watches with sly interest. You follow the path as best as you can, but the rain is falling heavily now, making the soil you track turn wet and muddy. The forest leans in, almost swallowing it from sight, but in a sprint of desperation you leap through the tunnel of foliage to find your footing again with the clap of a thunderbolt.
The sky is falling, in sheets of freezing rain that beat you down as you walk through the fading path, groping for an escape - but the path is gone, eaten by water and leaves.
In retaliation, you run through the bush, making a new path that takes you to places where no traveller has been. The rain gently subsides to a weak trickle, clouds fading from silky grays to crystalline whites, a bright turquoise sky filling in the dark hues. Rays of beaded sunlight leak through the clouds, and you stop, taking in the sight before you.
It is more beautiful than anything you have ever seen before. They sky’s trickling blues bleeding into the shimmering silvers of the waterfalls, the lush green forests sparring with the healthy brwn that seeps from the very earth. A valley expanded before you, full of life and vibrant with meaning. You hear birdcall - a faint twittering in the distance, as two sparrows question each other with their musical chatter. A relaxed gust of wind exhales over the valley, and with it, you sight, opening your eyes and leaving it all behind.
The song is over now, your instrument neatly placed back on your lap with gentle care. You catch the wide grin plastered over the conductor’s face as he bows to the crowd and happily accepts a bouquet of flowers. With the wave of his hand, you stand in unison with your peers, letting out the carefree smile you had hidden before. The audience erupts in applause, and you find that you still can’t focus on their expectant eyes, not because you are overwhelmed by their number, but because the journey is captured in all of those eyes as well as yours, each different, each unique. And seeing the same journey so many ways is simply too overwhelming to see.
You know that music, however temporary, is art - but in order to really unlock its beauty, you can’t just have a bunch of lines on paper. You need an armada adventurers, explorers - people who will dive into the story those splotches of ink depict and reveal its beauty for all to see. It only lasts a moment; a single, fleeting moment. But that moment can be the most spectacular in history.
You know this, and you also know that the journey you just took was one of the most amazing you have ever undertaken. Stealing a moment to wonder at the strange art music is, you slowly make your way off the stage and leave the song behind until it is reopened by another explorer, ready to follow the same path with their own twists.