Parts of a Whole | by Holly Hudley

Bach is in my living room. Really. He is. The notes of his Cello Suite No. 4 float off the record and dissipate into my space. He wrote the suites around 1720. Pablo Casals recorded this version in 1936. In 2018 they are both here with me. Sometimes I turn the records up really loud, lay on the floor, close my eyes, and listen. 

Dust glints in the light offered through the window, elegant in its slow drift. What particles of life, ancient and new, come with it? I am trying to remember Bill’s exact words to me in a recent conversation: “Everything is happening everywhere all the time.” We are stardust, we are dinosaur bones, we are Bach’s cello suites, we are our past, current, and future selves. We are  everywhere, all the time. 

I wonder what would be possible between us if we thought of ourselves like grains of sand - each distinct but part of a greater body. A single grain makes no noticeable difference, but together they make a beach, an ocean floor, rocks, minerals, and mountains. If grains of sand could talk they would look at each other and say to the ten grains of sand on either side of them, “I can’t make this beach without you.” That little murmur would spread in all directions from Mexico to Texas to the tip of the Florida Peninsula. On and on it would go. The sand does not know whether it is Mexican or Floridian. What could we learn from them, where each one matters as much as the whole?

It would be a small miracle if we really got that, if we realized we are distinct but not separate. It is true in the universe of our body. Each part, from the skin cells to the organs to the blood and oxygen flow, must work uniquely as well as in tandem to keep us alive. If we are small holograms of the universe itself, this must also be true on a cosmic level. Consider for a minute the possibility that folks like “the Buddha and Jesus, while separated by language, geography, and five centuries, are nevertheless deeply connected in the spiritual world, and devoted collaboratively to the evolution of humanity” (from Robert McDermott’s book Steiner and Kindred Spirits). Again I wonder, if we saw ourselves as part of everything everywhere all the time, what could we do? We just might change the world. 

from Molly Gochman’s Red Sands installation at IAH:

from Molly Gochman’s Red Sands installation at IAH: