Lately I’ve been MIA on facebook. Sure, I may do a drive-by a few times a week. But I limit my lingering since facebook can suck all the oxygen out of the room. It’s a time thief. Yet, every now and then it’s a treasure trove, too.
While visiting the page of a friend I actually know, I noticed a video he posted with this provocative title: Dancing Under The Gallows. I watched it and learned the bone-chilling and inspirational story of Alice Herz-Sommer, who, God willing, will turn 107-years-old November 26.
Still playing the piano daily, she is the oldest Holocaust survivor in the world. It was her musical ability as a concert pianist that spared her life at a Nazi concentration camp. Sommer has always known music produces hope.
“Music is God. You feel it especially when you are suffering,” she said.
Music, augmented by her optimistic outlook, has fueled her long life and made each day a precious gift.
“I am looking for the nice things in life,” she said, during an interview when she was 103. “I know about the bad things, but I look only for the good things.”
Her story reminded me of a quote I recently posted on facebook: You are the music while the music lasts. When I first read it I thought about it for days. What kind of music am I? A shrill melody or soothing sonnet? Is my tempo welcoming or are my chords discordant? Honestly, it depends on the day, but overall I like to think my beats are universal with a distinctive harmonious groove.
Sommer wasn’t the originator of that quote, it belongs to T.S. Eliot. But Sommer lives those words daily. This centenarian said she never hated anyone for anything because doing so would defile her. Individuals like her leave me awestruck and then ashamed at my own shortcomings. Haven’t we all held grudges for years over pettiness, severing meaningful relationships in flashes of anger or disappointment?
Sommer said only when we are old do we understand the beauty of life. She has more than a half-century head start on me for appreciating life so I take her at her word. Still, I strive to find joy daily knowing any day above ground is a fabulous one.
Sommer’s story will boost your spirits. Please watch the video, forward it and share your thoughts. Or at least think about the music emanating from the limited production called your life.