Embracing life is accepting all things as they are, enthusiastically and with open arms. It is a way of approaching life, an attitude.
If we will not embrace life as it is, then how will we embrace life? And if we do not embrace life, then what will we hold dear, if anything?
No one forces us to embrace life. We could tolerate it. We could even be angry and bitter about our circumstances, for all the good that does.
Life is an invitation that has walked through your door. You can embrace it or not, it is up to you.
- Anne Enright, Making Babies: Stumbling Into Motherhood (W.W. Norton & Company, 2012): “Enright, with all her caustic wit, embraces . . . ‘the whole Megillah’”.
- Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (Vintage Canada, 2006).: “Ishiguro has a way of pitting innocence against experience, while reminding us that we're capable of both.”
- Zinaida Serebriakova, Peasant (1914)
- Ivan Aivazovsky, Chains of the Caucasus Mountains (1869)
- Boris Kostudiev, At the Sketches (At the Foothills)
Music: songs and other short pieces
- The Beatles, Let It Be
Film and Stage
- Departures, a magnificent and moving film about a man who becomes an artist at a ritual for families of the departed
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
As in his Ninth Symphony, Mahler explored the themes of loss and grieving in his Symphony No. 1 in C major, “Titan” (1888). In his youth, he was passionately in love with a beautiful young woman, Johanna Richter. He continued to mourn the loss of that relationship for several years, including the time when he composed his first symphony. “The Titan of the title relates to an 1800-1803 novel of the same name by Jean Paul, which narrates a convoluted tale (in four volumes) of a man who must discover his hidden past, find his ideal bride, and assume the throne of a small German principality.” The first four movements evoke that turmoil but unlike his Ninth Symphony, his First reflects his youthful optimism, ending in transformation and triumph after he accepts his situation. “He . . . goes all the way back to the music with which the symphony began and gathers strength for a second assault that does indeed open the doors to a heroic ending and to its celebration in a hymn in which the horns, now on their feet, are instructed to drown out the rest of the orchestra, 'even the trumpets.'” Great performances have been conducted by Bernstein in 1988, Kubelik in 1968, Kubelik in 1979, Nézet-Séguin in 2019, Solti in 1964, Horenstein in 1969, Walter in 1954, Walter in 1961, Barbirolli in 1957, Chailly in 1996 and Boulez in 1998.
Brahms, Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90 (1883): Brahms, who never married may have been expressing his feelings about that in this symphony, which he described as “free but happy” – not free and happy. This was in “defiant response to Joseph Joachim’s Frei aber einsam ('Free but lonely')”. Brahms had been in love with Clara Schuman, and may never have resolved those feelings. A “defining characteristic is the prevalence of rhythmic instability, first heard in the opening theme with its ambiguity between duple and triple meter. The second movement has the character of a wind serenade with an austere second theme that returns again in the last movement. Clara Schumann described the delicately melancholy third movement as ‘a pearl, but it is a grey one dipped in a tear of woe.’ The unsettled turbulence of the last movement is resolved in the coda, with the return to F major and the gentle echo of the end of the first movement.” The symphony ends like this: “After a reticent recollection of the call-and-response, a passage heard half an hour earlier emerges from the veil. In its first appearance it was headstrong and defiant. Now it is mellow and restrained. It is the main theme of the opening movement, transformed by time and experience from a shout into a whisper: calm, reassuring, complete.” Top performances were conducted by Krauss in 1930, Weingartner in 1938, Furtwängler in 1949, Szell in 1951, Furtwängler in 1954, Klemperer in 1957, Reiner in 1957, Barbirolli in 1967, Boult in 1970, Sanderling in 1972, Abbado in 1989, Alsop in 2005, Fischer in 2021 and Blomstedt in 2022.
Malian multi-instrumentalist Baba Sissoko’s playing, particularly on his later albums, evokes joy and gratefulness:
- “Griot Jazz” (2021)
- “Mali Music Has No Borders” (2020)
- “Sissoko & Sissoko”, with kora artist Ballaké Sissoko (2019)
- “Amadran” (2019)
- “Mediterranean Blues” (2017)
The music of several east- and central-African guitarists sounds like an embrace of life. Their playing and singing is ebullient, and usually done in community. Leading examples include:
- Franco Luambo (Franco), with his playlists;
- Tabu Ley Rochereau, with his playlists;
- Eboa Lotin, with his playlists;
- Bombino, with his playlists.
Albums and live performances:
- Nana Mouskouri, Live at Herod Atticus, July 24, 1984; concert in Berlin, 1987
- Manu Dibango, Live ’91 album
- Sam Mangwana, Maria Tebbo album
- Robson Banda and The New Black Eagles, “Soweto”
- Franco et. le Tout Puissant OK Jazz, Mario album; La Vie des Hommes
- Franco & Tabu Ley Rochereau, “Lisanga Ya Banganga” album (2008) (136’)
- Hank Penny, Hillbilly Bebop: The King Anthology 1944-1950
- The Country Gentlemen, Country Songs, Old and New album
- The Allman Brothers Band at Fillmore East
- Miles Davis, “In Person at the Blackhawk, San Francisco” album
- Taylor Festival Choir, “So Hallow’d the Time”
- Aho, Chinese Songs (Kiinalaisia Iauluja) (1997): these songs convey sadness, even despair, until the final song breaks through with a revelation that we can choose another way.
- Dvořák, Piano Concerto in G Minor, Op. 33, B163 (1875): Though written in a minor key, this concerto is a celebration of life.