It is called a Fermata. For you non musicians (and I am not attempting to say I am a ‘musician’ of any accomplished sense) the fermata/”birds eye” is a sustained note (or rest) in a piece beyond its indicated time value. [For the exegete its Italian fem. past ptc. meaning to stop, from Latin fimare to make firm.] The length of the note (or rest) is determined by the conductor. Many great pieces of music have long sustaining notes throughout or at the close of the piece which strike a chord in the listener’s heart. I recall a few pieces of music back when I played more regularly that I wished the closing note would just resonate forever. I did not want the song to end.
How many times have you been swallowed by the moment attempting to conduct your own fermata? A moment of excitement and you attempt to prolong it for as long as you can. A ‘if I could had this moment for life’ mentality. Those days where everything seems to go perfect, one good thing after another, everyone likes you, you smell good, you look good. The quintessential Cube ‘no barking from the dog, no smog, and momma cooked’ bacon because you eat pork. Those days make for your best attempts to compose a fermata. This is too good, too exciting, too joyous. I have to keep things right here.
Or perhaps it’s not a note but silence. The day after chaos and nothing is happening. The brief respite from tension in the family where everyone is getting along. No one is stressing. For a moment you feel like you can do something right or for a brief moment at least no one is drawing attention to your mistakes. No unwritten rules to break. You are not making up for yesterdays mishaps. No one is interrogating you. No striving for understanding and pushing for purpose beyond the mundane. No one has asked you to join in their minutia. Its quiet, its peaceful, its tranquil. Nothing but
Those moments are where you try to insert a fermata. I break in the sentences of life where silences is all there is. This silence is too good, I have to keep things right here. I will move to the forrest and stay there. Forever.
Long notes or long pauses are beautiful things. But I have learned a few things in the ballad of life: One, there are many movements in life, many key variations, accidentals, and many changes in the rhythm. And two, as much as we dress the part and have a baton, we are not the composer. And for that matter we are not sitting in lead chair in any section either. So what does that mean?
I love those fermatas in music. Long sustained notes or long sustained pauses would have no benefit if there were not music before and after it. And it would be no good unless you have a good composer. It is the playing the notes of life, the working through the piece that make the long sustained notes sound so pure; so timely. It is the stressing through the dark clouds that make the pause into the clear sky above so beautiful. And only the conductor knows when its time to rest or time to sustain.
In this ballad of life we have to be more desirous of enjoying the music regardless of the form. For we know that one day a fermata is coming that will sustain forever.
When we’ve been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun