Wednesday 17 January 2007

Cien Años de Soledad

That’s the Spanish origin of “100 Years of Solitude”. In the 4 previous entries, I have written about all the feelings we shared of sorrow, grieve, pity, anger, hope, worry, anxiety, disappointment, despair, and love. I have not yet mentioned a kind of feeling that I think can many times occupy your heart and soul. It’s loneliness.

This feeling is possibly the hardest to describe, and I am not sure that each of us – inexperienced journalists - has experienced it once or twice. To me only, it comes very often so that I sometimes think my job is characterized by fighting and loneliness. Since I was small, my mother often complained that I was like “a colossal mass of solitude”. Not more than 15 years later I would realize that being a reporter only makes me more like what she described. And very often the thought that “I am out of the place” finds its way into my mind though I hate it.

I remember the days I was working as an art correspondent, and I was in charge of reporting news on cultural events, say, a film festival, a fashion show, or an art exhibition. Writing news on a guitar festival, for instance, was not necessarily a hard task for me as I had for 5 years taken extra lessons on classical guitar, and logically I must have enjoyed the chance of attending music performances for free. But what scared me the most was that such performances would fill my heart with a very strange feeling, that I would call it a blend of loneliness and sadness. How many times I listened to the soothing music played on the guitar, and felt myself overflow with sorrow as I knew I would never be able to reach it, my guitar. I was a failer in music. I could not, and would never manage to put just one foot on the threshold of the music world. I looked at the guitarist, the singer, the orchestra, knowing well that I could never be one of them; I am totally out of the place. How many times I told myself that I could not hold on forever, that I must get out of it – the world of music, and never to return.

But memories were too beautiful to forget. I remembered what I wrote after a guitar performance in winter 2000.

He bent down. His face darkened while his fingers slid over the frets, giving out the sounds that I would never forget, the sounds that brought back memories of the past. It was a distant past that dated back from the early 1990s, full of love and happiness. It also was sometime in the mid-1990s, with glowing sunsets when I was sitting quietly in the Phat Diem church, listening to the church bell’ sound. It was a more recent past of Christmas season of 1997, when Hanoi was dimmed with winter haze, and in a small, old Hanoi garret I was strumming my guitar and let my imagination flow…

An angelic face
An angelic melody
Was it rhythms of tides or rhythms of emotions?
Was it just a dream?

Time went by and I had to give up all the dreams I once had. I left university, and began to work as a reporter, and I avoided listening to the guitar so that my old dream might fall into oblivion. But time after time it revived in a way that grieved me again and thus made my heart unable to put up with.

I went to watch The Magic Flute. Once again I felt back in my heart the sorrow that I thought was dead. I burried my face in the hands, wishing I could cover my eyes and ears so that I would no more see the sparkling stage light and get the sound of music which just awoke a dead love. But the music kept resounding to break my heart. No matter what I wanted, the beautiful sounds still came into my mind and stayed there days later. And all the melodies that I loved before came back to me: Milonga, Serenade Español (Sigño Poli), Menueto (Beethoven), Prelude 1 (Villa Lobos), Memories of Alhambra, Asturias (Albeniz), Spanish Dance No.5, etc. “My God,” I whispered to myself, “It’s a long moment of happiness. But can’t it be an everlasting moment?” I got back home, trying to banish those beautiful themes, but I failed. In vain I was trying to escape from feelings; in vain also I made lots of efforts so that someday I could find myself in the stage light, bending toward the guitar, and enjoying the most beautiful moments of life: living in the world of music. Despite such efforts, I would eventually find myself out of the place. There was only loneliness and sadness that filled my soul. En mi alma sólo tengo soledad.

And that’s “the reverse side of the medal”. Although I love art and music, and I love journalism too, I can’t feel happy to blend the two. Perhaps that’s the reason why I both love and hate to go to concerts. That was also a long sad story of mine being a reporter.

Loneliness. I think it is attached to our life once we work as journalists. We can't flee from it.

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