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The Devil's Interval (Accepting Your Life Drama)

In Western musical theory, there are typically 12 notes in the chromatic scale and therefore 14 different interval possibilities (an interval is the distance between pitches). When two of these intervals are played at the same time, some of them are pleasant sounding and bright, such as the major third and perfect fourth and fifth. Others are darker, with a minor, strange or "sad" sound, such as the second or the minor third. There's one interval, however, that's the darkest and most dissonant of them all.

According to the OnMusic Dictionary, a tritone is...

The interval of an augmented fourth. This interval was known as the "devil in music" in the Medieval era because it is the most dissonant sound in the scale.

If you're familiar with the piano, play a C and then play the F# directly above it at the same time. Or if you're a guitarist, play your second string (B string) open while playing the first fret on the first string (high E string) at the same time.

This is the tritone, the "devil's interval."

Why is it known the "devil's interval"? In the middle ages this interval was often avoided in composition because of its dissonant, clashing quality. The very sound of it suggests discord, opposition or even evil.

[With that said, this isn't a history or music theory lesson on the tritone. If you'd like more information, check out this Wikipedia article or just Google search "tritone."]

Interestingly enough, what we consider music today wouldn't exist without it. The dissonance created by this interval introduces drama into the tonality.  As a piece of music moves along (if you listen closely enough), notes clash and then resolve, bite at your ear and then become pleasant, make you cringe and then make you smile.  Without it, music would become boring very quickly.

SO WHAT?!

Many of us want to sanitize our lives: pushing that which is dissonant far away, living a sheltered and safe life, avoiding the drama and fearing the darkness both in ourselves and in the world.  During those times when we want life's fucked-up twists and turns to end or for everything to be safe and manageable, let us never forget that the end of drama is the introduction of boredom, of lifelessness. Yes, there are shitty days and terrorists, jock itch and natural disasters, but at least in this dimension - in this life - everything that we know and experience couldn't exist without them.

Let's transform the previous sentence from above:

As *LIFE* moves along, it clashes and then resolves, bites at you and then becomes pleasant, makes you cringe and then makes you smile. Without the drama, life would become boring very quickly.

When we learn to accept that the dance of harmony and dissonance, the clash of good and evil, is exactly the very thing that makes the world go 'round, we're free to participate in it with joy.  We can be happy to roll with the punches and navigate a complicated and tricky existence without frustration, but rather with the acceptance that it has to be this way.  This isn't to say we have to be tolerant of the various kinds of evil or injustice we experience - let us fight them with vigor when we need to - but all the while knowing that in some grand, meta-narrative, it is all - ALL - good.

By Trevor, The Edge of Spirit

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I Sold My Soul For This?

"Oh Lord, I'm still not sure what I stand for, oh
What do I stand for? What do I stand for?

Most nights, I don't know anymore..."
["Some Nights" by Fun.]

When was the last time you looked yourself in the mirror and asked why you're alive? Jesus fuck, people. Are we living on purpose or are we simply reacting to a neverending barrage of urgencies?  No one is stopping us from living an unconscious life, playing victim to all the demands and requirements of a needy world. Sleepwalk if you want to, just don't expect to ever have a deep rooted peace. And be prepared to check out at the end of your life as a Grade-A pussy who was ground into a nub and lost the game of life. 

We must ask ourselves the hard questions. We need to find time to center, to turn in, to inquire. If we do not, our actions will only stem from what Zen teacher Cheri Huber calls "egocentric, karmic conditioning." Our habitual, reactive responses will make our decisions for us and we will be driven and compelled solely by base-level urges and whims. One day we wake up and realize that the life we're living is built upon two things: fear and what other people have expected from us.

"So this is it? I sold my soul for this?
Washed my hands of that for this?
I miss my mom and dad for this?"

Jesus of Nazareth is said to have asked, "What benefit is it for a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?" Good question, Jesus. The thing is - a life that ends with one's soul intact doesn't happen naturally. There's too much "egocentric, karmic conditioning" circulating for that. It takes intention. And no one can do that work for us; it's something we have to do individually and on purpose.

This week make it a point to find time to sit quietly. Hell, start right now. Begin to ask who you are, what you stand for, what drives you, what the purpose of your life is. Then shut the fuck up, stop talking and just listen. These answers don't come easily; even though they may arise instantaneously, they most often take years.

When you make the effort to know who you are and what you stand for, you then can begin making decisions based on your deepest truth. You can go to bed at night with peace - knowing that you rocked the shit out of your day. And as you draw nearer to the big GAME OVER, even if you gained nothing in the worldly sense, you know with confidence that your "soul" was intact.

"What do I stand for? What do I stand for?" Only you can know for sure.

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