Thursday, March 8, 2012

52 Card Pick Up

"Think of it like this. If you are sad because you can't have something you want - maybe a book or a toy - you can do one of two things: you can do your best to get it, or you can stop wanting it. Either way, if you succeed, you won't be sad any more." - E.H. Gombrich, A Little History of the World

Lately, I have observed two ways in which meaningful events occur; 1) people make them happen or, 2) they happen to people. An indecisive mind will favor option 2, because although the indecisive mind generally seeks the same conclusiveness as a decisive mind, the indecisive mind is too apathetic to make that choice his/herself. In my experience, this apathy can be a guard against the fear of failure (or success). Sometimes, the indecisive mind resonates with phrases like: "if it's meant to be, it will work itself out."

A decisive mind will favor option 1 because the decisive mind knows the best way to make things happen is to take action and do. The decisive mind is not afraid of failure and knows that the best way to know is to find out by either succeeding or failing. The decisive mind does not count on things working themselves out.

It's the difference between making things happen in your life and letting life happen to you. If an objective is a neat stack of playing cards, the indecisive mind throws the cards up in the air and hopes that they fall back into a neat stack. And if they don't, then it wasn't meant to be a neat stack. The decisive mind collects all the cards and organizes them into a pile - no matter the cost - because that's what he wants for his life.

"Everything happens for a reason" usually because people make those things happen. And that's the reason for them happening. Because we make decisions and life unfolds. Not because we're figurines in a big snow globe that bounce around every time someone turns our world upside down.

Sometimes, things do happen to us that we don't anticipate, that weren't part of our plan. Obviously we can't control everything that happens in our life. And sometimes, "everything happens for a reason" can be a very comforting thought.

Right now, in my current situation, "everything happens for a reason" and "if it's meant to be, it will work itself out" are mindsets with which I cannot agree. Things happen - or don't happen - because people make decisions. By not choosing, you still have made a choice (to paraphrase a Rush song...).

I suppose there is a chance that all of the cards could work themselves into a neat pile; but I'm not betting on it, and I'm not waiting to find out for sure. I'm playing 52 card pick up.

What are your thoughts on these two catch phrases? Leave a comment a below.

No, seriously. If you read this, you should leave a comment below.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Audition Recap/Debrief from UT Austin

Audition Recap/Debrief from UT Austin

So how’d it go? Well… I botched my audition. I went in, incredibly nervous and stopped too many times in too many solos. I was cut off from a few of my pieces, and definitely didn’t play most of what I had prepared. Many of my friends will tell me that I’m probably being too hard on myself. I know that I usually am, but trust me when I say I flopped. It’s incredibly disheartening to put a lot of work and hope into an audition and then helplessly watch it crumble in front of my eyes. The feeling is compounded of course by being in a new city by myself. As much for myself as for anyone else, I felt I needed to debrief what went on today.

This morning, as I walked to the School of Music I tried to settle my nervous energy by focusing on my breathing; the frigid air put it right in front of my face, making it a fairly easy task. As I watched its vapor drift by my face, I passed a raggedly dressed man who I assumed was homeless. Passing beneath a highway overpass, we made eye contact - the kind that determines if you say hello or not.

“Good morning.” he exclaimed with a curt nod.

“Morning.” I replied, too surprised to sound very polite.

I looked over my shoulder as we continued in our opposite directions and saw him stop at the intersection I had just crossed. He pulled a piece of cardboard out of his jacket and stationed himself on the corner, taking up post for the morning. I let my imagine wander… I wondered if he had chased a dream sometime, if he had tried for something much bigger than himself and if he gave up when he failed.

No, I’m not worried about becoming a professional sign older, and I realize that creating a hypothetical scenario about someone I don’t even know might be unethical or something. But, I can understand why someone would quit after enduring the sting of failure. Needless to say, today I was reminded that failure is part of music. And putting yourself out there in spite of that fact, is part of life.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Spider In My Apron

The blue moon that arrived last week was my cue to clean my room. As I picked up my dirty work aprons to empty their pockets, a rather large and hairy brown spider scurried over my wad of cash. Reacting like the strong man that I am, I dropped the aprons in fright and surprise and watched the spider skitter around the floor of my room until deciding that behind my beloved 1970s drumset would be a good place to nest and reproduce its stupid small spider family. Coins bounced haphazardly across (ironically) our 1970s, hairy brown carpet; adrenaline pumping, it was natural for each shimmer to catch me off guard. In fact, I spent the next half an hour scanning my room for any form of movement at all; they could all be spiders, you know.

When we encounter things we are fearful of, don't we, in some way or another, seek the feared (or at least create patterns, even illusions of the feared), just so we're not surprised the next time we see it? Why does seeing the spider make me continue to look for it for half an hour, even after it's gone?

Monday, January 11, 2010


The common and inspirational quote "It's about the journey, not the destination" never rang as brightly or as true to my ears as it has to others.

"The moment of victory is much too short to live for that and nothing else."
-Martina Navratilova

Immediately, this made me think of music. A quick, yet intensely satisfying moment of gratification, that despite its greatness, dwindles and fades like anything else.

Well if its not about the destination, the victory, then what is it about? And why do I keep going when I have such a blurry foresight as to where I'll end up? I'm convinced the journey must have more substance than we credit it with, and we must realize and appreciate that substance sooner than in hindsight. Otherwise we just live blip to blip, like red pins on a big map.

What does Martina's quote make you think of? What do you think about the substance of your journey and its destination(s)?

Friday, December 25, 2009

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

The version by Casting Crowns has been claimed "favorite Christmas song this year" by mother--I think I'll agree and make it mine too. Spend the 99 cents and buy this song.

Here are the words to the original poem by Henry W. Longfellow:

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound the carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent
And made forlorn, the households born
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Comforting yet irksome; beautiful indeed. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Little Grinchy

I was shopping in JC Penny's last night looking for gifts for the family when I came across a series of bracelets engraved with sentimental phrases: "daughter, if you were a flower I'd still pick you"; "sisters begin as siblings and end as friends", blah blah blah. Just as I was about to choke on all the syrup, I saw this dumb message on a bracelet for mom: "God couldn't be everywhere, so he created mothers".

Apparently this sang has been around for a while, which seems rather stupid to me. Wouldn't mom would be a lot harder to find if she could be everywhere like God can (or can't, in this case)?
(insert rhetoric and sarcasm at your own discretion)
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Nostalgia... but better.

I wrote this entry back in September when I played a concert of John Williams Music. Figured I should document the chicken scratch before I lose it, or spill something on it...

In this concert, I've had several emotional reactions to the music, or to the memory of when it was first heard. There have been three times when performing, that a specific musical moment (in Star Wars and Harry Potter) has caused an internal pull, like someone's grabbed my insides and twisted (to steal a line from Rowling)--A swelling in my throat that teases tears. Why is there such a reaction to this "commercial music"-- it always has such a negative connotation, but it's quite good. It has an emotional substance that is magnified by the memory of its early hearing. The personal connection I've had with the Stars Wars films, the Harry Potter books, and, though not as magical, the subsequent films is one that was made in my childhood. This hindsight is bitter sweet.

Sweet in the innocence and happiness of childhood--truly wishing to be a Luke or Harry. This is one of the most impressive type of art, perhaps the most pure: to change completely one's sense of reality, where we may forget (though temporarily) our obligations to a hungry society. How great that these stories were fabricated and brought to life by humans that at one point harbored our same potential energy.

Bitter because we are eventually brought back to the very real truth that:
1) We can't live the life that as a child we fantasized was possible, and
2) we can no longer live as freely and without care as we did in youth (though perhaps it didn't seem that way then).

Sweet again. Our big troubles then, don't seem so now. Which means, our big troubles now won't seem so soon enough.