“Things we do and experience have resonance . . . The present is filled with past experience ringing in various ways and now is colored by this symphony of resonance” (Paul Lansky).
RESONANCE IS A WORD THAT COMES TO US FROM THE SCIENCE OF ACOUSTICS. When the sound-producing vibrations of one body (such as a violin string) produce sympathetic vibrations in another body (such as the wood of the violin body), the result is resonance. And when one set of vibrations creates similar vibrations in another body, the result is not only a bigger sound but a richer one.
Another way of looking at resonance is to say that one thing “resounds” to another. That is, one thing responds to the sound of another by sympathetically “re-sounding,” or sounding again, the first sound, thus making it more interesting and impactful than the first sound would be all by itself. So resonance increases the quality of sounds.
Figuratively, then, we speak of resonance as the effect produced when something that one person says or does creates a deep, sympathetic response in another person. The second person is the “sounding board” that receives a message and then “sounds it again,” connecting to it emotionally and reflecting it back in a rich and meaningful way.
Surely, we ought to welcome experiences like this. They can be positively life-changing. Musician Rita Coolidge said, “I choose things by how they resonate in my heart.” Some messages and some experiences produce no effect within us; they make no deep connection. But others resonate, and these are the ones that matter most.
And since we have the ability to influence one another, we should always seek to resonate with those around us. We do this by first listening to others sympathetically and learning their needs. Then we are able to send “sounds” that resonate with them, impacting them richly.
It is marvelous to see how things are connected in our world. In the realm of human activity, just as with physical objects, what happens in one place can create a sympathetic vibration in another. The fact of this connectedness is sobering — we will answer for it if our impact on others was not helpful. But it’s also encouraging. What a wonder that one heart can “sound again” the music of another heart!
“. . . like a resonance of sound in the clearest grain of a violin” (Norman Mailer).