W. A. Mathieu is a composer and a teacher who believes that being musical doesn't really have to do with knowing how to play an instrument or to sing in tune. It is, he says, "a way of being aware, an angle of perception, a tilt of the ear." Mathieu's The Musical Life: Reflections on What It Is and How To Live It is a spiritual masterpiece that speaks volumes about meditative listening, the bounties of life, the joys of creativity, and the mystical oneness of all things.

"The secret of the musical life," Mathieu writes, "is to be open to vibration at every level, to appreciate it wherever you find it." The hum of traffic, the samba in brushing your teeth, the thumping of your blood are always within earshot. "Every sound," according to the author, "is like the first Word, a creation story in itself. Sound is the audible form of vital energy that passes through your life."

Music is within us; music is all around us. That is why a certain song can spark a memory and we are transported to the past. That is why the phrase, we make sweet music together describes a good thing. That is why our animal bodies dance to the savage beat. And that is why we can refer to a mystical experience as something akin to the music of the spheres.

Mathieu compares music to fireworks — "ephemeral constructions that hang in the sky and heighten our senses." He moves a step closer by defining music as "an exchange between souls." When Mathieu describes what it is like to be a composer, it sounds like being a holy man. Perhaps that's because the author has played tambourine at the center of Sufi dancing for 25 years.

So what do we have here? A celebration of life where sound, music, harmony, and melody are all around us. "Music," writes Mathieu, "makes an altar in our ears." We approach it by becoming sensitive, open, generous listeners. After reading The Musical Life, you'll want to sing its praises by passing it on to someone your cherish.