I’ve always gone on kicks. My childhood was a string of passionate “kicks.” One does not merely play with the American Girl dolls for an hour. Nay, one must throw oneself wholeheartedly into the world of Felicity, Samantha, Josefina, and Maggie May (Ali’s off-brand doll). We would play for hours each day for about a week or so, burn out, and move on to the next thing (paperdolls, baby dolls, barbie dolls…by all rights I should be really messed up for having played with such stereotypical toys…only I’m not).
Anyways, the newest kick is Beethoven. Listening to NPR one afternoon on my way home, I happened to hear about a newish documentary centered around Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. This documentary traces the journey of Beethoven’s last symphony through Tiananmen Square in the Spring of 1989 to the Pinochet’s coup in Chile to Pete Seeger (folk singer) translating/writing verses in England. And did you know that in Japan they devote New Year’s Day to performing the 9th? Sometimes with a choir of 10,000 people?
Anyhow, I spent some serious time researching (googling) which recording was best. First article said that Herbert von Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in 1962 was the best. The price on itunes was right. I listened to it once through yesterday while tidying and doing dishes.
However, today on a whim I decided to listen to it during my long run. I had 12 miles to knock out, and only 50 minutes left of a my fascinating audiobook. If the music got too boring I could always switch over to the book or This American Life. Ha. Beethoven boring? The symphony begins with all of these discordant notes. It sounds like an orchestra tuning up. One conductor said that it sounds like the Spirit of God hovering over the waters. And then bang. And we’re off.
Let’s get this clear. I don’t run fast. But I do run. And while I was running today I may or may not have been doing a lot of fist pumping and conducting. And when the final movement started I picked up the pace knowing that I might regret it, but we were not made to jog along during the Ode to Joy. You better believe I was “running,” conducting with my arms, fist pumping. Did I look like an idiot? Sure. But I didn’t care one jot. I teared up a few times because the sky was so blue, the sun was so bright, Beethoven was so beautiful, and therefore God was so good.
8.43 miles in, with one loop left to go, I found that my waterbottle had been stolen off of my porch. I usually stash it there so I can grab a drink every 4 miles or so. Normally this would’ve ticked me off, but today because of Beethoven (you guys a human being wrote that music. It just confounds me that some of us are that talented!) I shrugged it off. I dashed upstairs, grabbed a glass of water, and hoped that whoever stole my waterbottle really needed some water or had a deep affection for filthy, well-used nalgenes.
If you’ve never listened to the 9th symphony all the way through, do it. And if you need to conduct, hum, fist pump (I think I get this from my dad) go for it. I think that’s what Beethoven’s for.