“Don’t worry about the mistakes, play from the heart!” she proclaimed, in between numerous statements of wisdom as her fingers danced from key to key. There may not be any greater experience than meeting a new friend. I met my new friend recently by chance through a last minute invitation. I jumped at the opportunity to tag along after learning that a few friends had been invited to listen to the musical talents of a pianist. I had no idea I would be meeting a delightful, bright, warm, inviting and passionate musician who would be playing a private recital of classical Chopin.
I was stunned. This woman’s welcoming smile and passion for her craft as well as her love for teaching radiated head to toe. Imagine for a second that there is such a thing as destiny – music is her destiny. Being given the privilege and gift to watch her as she played warmed my heart and soul. Describing the experience of enjoying her music is comparable to smelling fresh flowers on a gorgeous sunny day. You feel warmth, peace and inspiration.
It’s incredible to think about the power of music. Life creates many special things and music is definitely a creative expression born out of humanity that brings us together even in our most difficult struggles. As an outsider in Bosnia, she talked about her struggles coping with the differences between her country and BiH. She spends her time now working across many diverse populations teaching music. Without telling her story, I can tell you about how she expressed her incredible love for BiH. This artist expresses her love by sharing her music with the world in an attempt to continue bridging peace and hope.
As I continue to ponder what justice, peace and reconciliation might mean in Bosnia-Herzegovina, I cannot help but reflect on the many people I meet, such as this amazing musician. Artists continue to take steps everyday to transform the narrative between nations from hate to love. Humility, grace and curiosity can be a bridge to peace as these characteristics have the power to transform ideology, institutions, interpersonal relationships and internalized expressions of oppression. Without an expanded understanding of the “other” – the beautiful other – how can peace occur?
Artists teach us that peace begins with every one of us. We cannot rely on anyone else, any nation state or any other powerful entity to create, maintain or sustain peace. It is our responsibility to embody what we want to see in the world. It is up to us if we truly want peace.