Saturday, March 22, 2014

Harmony Day

On Friday, the 21st of March, I was on my way to Aquinas College in Ringwood to tell stories at their Harmony Day festival when the most amazing thing happened. I was riding my motorcycle through the Mullum Mullum Tunnel when the tunnel came to life.

Do you ever sing in the shower? (You know you do!) Have you ever hit a particular note that caused something in the room (usually the walls, because there are so many tiles) to vibrate? If you have ever discovered the resonance frequency of a bathroom, you heard the pitch you we singing double, triple or even quadruple in volume as the room joined you in song. Everything has a natural frequency. Everything.

While travelling in the eastbound tunnel, the combination of vehicles joined together in a rumbling tone that, remarkably, matched the natural frequency of the tunnel. I say this because, wearing an open face helmet, I was there when it happened. The tunnel came to life and began to sing with the collective resonance of the engines around me. It was so loud I have nothing with which to compare it.

It was like being a flea inside the tailpipe of a Harley as the throttle opens.
It was like being a bird inside the largest flute of a massive pipe organ as its foot-petal is pressed.
It was like being a remora clinging to a whale as he breaks into courtship song.
It was, in a word, wonderful!

This blissful resonance frequency created by the collective vehicles in the tunnel, quickly formed itself into the perfect introduction to my story-set for Harmony Day. What is harmony if not the result of multiple things becoming one and achieving heights unreachable before their unity in diversity?

What worth does a tunnel coming to life, singing its guts out, have – if not told as story? Experience only becomes truly meaningful when it is formed into story. It’s meaning becomes full when attached to my story, shared into your story and owned as our story.

And so, I asked the year 10 kids, to imagine if the people of Ringwood said, “What is it about Aquinas College? When that school shows up, things are different – wonderful even. It’s not that they send us one or two students as exceptional examples but that they, as a school, make our community sing.”

Then I told them some stories that, I hope, gave them hooks to hang harmony on.
Story: Jimmy and the Black Dot
Activity: I See an Angel (Video)
Story: Brave Kwame 
Activity: Indoor Rain (Video)

I finished by explaining to the students that at Cultural Infusion we have Harmony Day every day. We empower Australian artists from cultures all around the world to come together in schools and resonate. And as those artists do their thing, one after the other, the students experience the diversity and beauty of the many World cultures represented in Australia. The sum total of the dance, the drums, the singing, the didgeridoo – all the stories told in so many ways – causes Australia to start to sing. It’s like a Harley, a pipe organ, a whale – like a tunnel filled with everything it needs to make a new, beautiful song. And that new song can only begin when we all sing, dance, play and perform in our own unique way.

May you go into the world and be your true self.
May you celebrate the diversity around you.
May you join in the song; and may it be ever so loud.

May you enjoy Harmony Day, every day!

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