Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bagpipes and Beauty

On Tuesday I was driving my two older nephews, five and three, to a nearby lake to do some plant identification with a horticulturalist friend of mine (a.k.a. Plant Guy). In my efforts to expose my godsons to the finer things in life, I played Celtic music in the car, which to my delight had the boys transfixed.

“This is a bagpipe,” I explained to them during one song. “They play them in Scotland, mostly, but I think there is enough sharing of cultures between the two countries that they play them in Ireland as well. At least, I saw them a few times when I was there, though they might have been there just for the benefit of tourists who don’t know the difference between Ireland and Scotland. They are really funny-looking instruments...”

At this point I began my feeble efforts to describe a bagpipe to preschoolers while I drove. The five-year-old who had developed an early love for musical instruments four years earlier listened intently, my description no doubt giving him a strange picture.

“Oh,” he finally sighed dramatically, “I do hope I get to see a bagpipe in real life before I die!”

I was shocked at his entirely appropriate response. “Well Buddy,” I replied, “I hope so too.”

“Actually,” he continued, “I think everyone should get to see a bagpipe in real life before they die!”

Again, I could not agree with him more.

But he was not finished. “But some people never get to see a bagpipe in real life before they die,” he lamented mournfully.

“No,” I agreed, surprised at the somber turn in the conversation. “It’s very sad.”

“Some people die when they are little babies, and they never get to see a bagpipe in real life. It is very sad when that happens.”

“You’re right, it is quite sad,” I said, never having thought of that particular aspect of the tragedy of infant mortality.

“And some people lived a long, long time ago before there were any bagpipes, and they never even got to hear a bagpipe.”

Again, what could I do but agree?

“But I am still quite young,” he mused, “so hopefully I have a lot of life left in me. I imagine I’ll get to see a bagpipe before I die.”

Well, Little One, I sure do hope so. In the mean time, thank you for the reminder of what I had felt the first time I had heard the bagpipe, and the reminder to love the beautiful things in the world. What a saturated world of gratuitous beauty we live in, full of mountains and skies and the color green and... as if that were not enough... bagpipes on top of everything!


sharon said...

i concur! and i am amazed at your nephew's vocabulary at his age. very nice.

NC Sue said...

I suspect I'd really like that little guy. He has an appreciation for things we take for granted and compassion for those who may not be able to enjoy them.

Cliff said...

What an insightful young man.