Dissonant Days


There is just something captivating about a good jazz song. Playful, sassy, and unexpected – the spontaneity in a world that loves order is a refreshing surprise. One of my favorites, Dizzy Gillespie, and his comical cheeks, takes your mood wherever he wants to go with just a few measures. That man could play. As a former musician myself, I learned the importance of dissonance, especially in jazz.

Dissonance is “a tension or clash resulting from the combination of two disharmonious or unsuitable elements.” In jazz, dissonance is there to create contrast for a resolution. In fact, without dissonance, there is no interesting and beautiful resolution.

Have you noticed that life also has dissonance? Tension, a clash coming from two unsuitable elements. Sometimes it is within a relationship. The two of you might seem like “unsuitable elements” for one another. Sometimes it is that late night train that doesn’t come after a long day of work. Whatever it is, it just seems ugly.

It seems like it’s just going to end on that note, and we are left feeling uneasy. It’s not what we want to hear. But, here is something I have been realizing, be it ever so slowly. Without dissonance, there is no opportunity for resolution. And resolution is the sweetest song there is.

For instance, take that relationship. In the middle of a disagreement, it feels painful. But what I’ve experienced, is that if you can make it through the ugly note, and make it to the resolution, that relationship becomes a much deeper melody. With conflict, there is a choice for deeper love. Without choice it is merely feelings pushing you this way and that. The way to deeper relationship is the choice of love, acceptance, and forgiveness. That’s no easy feat. But the ugly can make the beautiful that much more sweet.

My favorite author Donald Miller speaks about what makes a good story. One of the elements is that it needs to have a conflict. And after the conflict comes, you guessed it, resolution. That’s what makes a story you remember, one that means something to you. Dissonance and resolutions are the evidence that we are not in control.

When I hit those painful chords in my life, I try to look for the resolution and remember – dissonance brings greater harmony. Lean into it. Look for the resolution, even if it is only within your own outlook. Because sometimes that new outlook, is all we need.

Written By

New Yorker, photographer, blogger, and life time dreamer.

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