**spoiler alert** it’s very likely i’ll give away parts of the soloist in this post. predictable? yes. but still… if you like to experience “for yourself” before reading, be forewarned.

i’ll be the first to say that i know little to nothing about art. beautiful things are just beyond me. i can appreciate pretty things, but typically i miss the point. i remember one time hearing an amatuer (but talented) artist acquaintence talk about how the lyrics to a song he wrote might be misunderstood when paired by the actual music we hear. apparently when you heard that particular riff, it would (in a normal, art-sensitive person) conjure some sort of feeling that would make you think something contrary to what the lyrics were saying. i had nothing. i didn’t get how it didn’t really go. but i’m living in an awareness of my art ignorance and it is helping. hi, my name is michele, and i’m an art idiot.

tonight we watched the soloist and i was struck by the undercurrents. the main storyline, that jamie foxx is a schizophrenic, homeless, amazing cellist is nice. good box office sell. but if you ask me all the streams that fed the river is what make it worth watching. the first theme was the role of God, or faith throughout the movie. i have no idea what it was about. really. it was lost to me (maybe because they said it artistically?), so i’d welcome some commentary on what was trying to be established. it was a seemingly unfriendly tone, but i can’t figure out why.

most provocative to me was the human (american) reaction to the situation. when the journalist comes across foxx’s situation he feels compelled to help. a good, normal, healthy response. some woman donates a cello so he makes sure foxx gets it, along with setting him up with a mental group home. he tries for an apartment, lessons, eventually even medication and anything else he thinks would fix foxx’s situation. the city even follows suit, pledging kaboodles of money for the poor section of town. we see how that translates later when it’s raided, someone arrested for the illegal possession of a milk crate.

the way the journalist attempts to help is nice. and his response is probably a stone’s throw to my own. but it becomes glaringly obvious when foxx shows up at the workplace that the journalist’s desire to help has certain limits. he’s willing to lend a hand as long as it happens on foxx’s turf, away from the safety of his own comfortable and manageable life. the journalist sleeps on the street one night and can feel good about himself but when foxx shows up in the civilized world, the lines are drawn.

the journalist, like 98% of our population, is willing to give of stuff. willing to care to a limit. but what foxx wants, needs, is a relationship with a level playing field. someone that will listen – not just to fix, but to experience. isn’t that what all our good friends do? i mean, my best friends will surely offer advice (both solicitied and not – and i love them for it), not because they want to fix me, but because they love me. and then they walk with me.

and maybe that’s what the artistic theme throughout the movie was doing. it levels the playing field. when beethoven is present it doesn’t really matter your income or family status or even your ability to distinguish real voices from hallucinations. it’s something beyond ourselves, something we cannot grasp or conquer or claim for our own – it is to be shared.

hmm… now i’m wondering if the remarks about God throughout the movie were trying to expose the backward state of our religious movements. like music, God levels the playing field. He loves those who do right as much as He loves those who do wrong. i heard a great teaching this week about how God loves the people who (we think) have no reason to be loved. he loves them more, probably, than those of us who think we deserve to be loved. God is something beyond ourselves, something we cannot grasp or conquer or claim for our own – He is to be shared. maybe when the ultra-religious tutor was praying over foxx it was exposing our attempts to use God as a way to conquer rather than an opportunity to level and be present.

so now comes the hard part. if i’m being asked to live in a way that invites others in and levels the playing field; if i’m being challenged to give more than my stuff or my money but of myself, tell me: what does that look like? shall we all start scouring main street for out-of-sorts musicians? do i sign up to serve the local shelter so i can find me a “lesser” person to love?

i don’t think it’s about finding a project. when it was an article, the journalist had lines. when it’s a “volunteer opportunity” there are lines. but there is something to be said for putting myself in new places to experience people who are not like me. to open my eyes- not so that i become a better person, but to love someone, because there are lots of people who need to feel and know they are loved. because when we listen to music it becomes clear at a heart level that we’re the same and we should treat each other that way.

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