I’ve realized that music is paving my way into being a middle aged human. Don’t worry – I’m not jumping the gun – at barely forty I’d like to think I’m not there quite yet!
But I’ve touched on this journey before – the music of my youth was the music of my God. I lost Him as a late teen, and with Him went my music. For the years in between church and picking up the violin again I was simply a musical air plant; whatever passed my way was fine. Some of what drifted by made me smile. Very little of it made me frown. Regardless, for those twenty-odd years the atmospheric droplets of sound did little to impact my day to day existence.
This morning I read a spectacular essay by one of my favorite contemplators of modernity, Andrew Sullivan, entitled, “I Used to Be a Human Being,” published in New York magazine back in September. Sullivan, a philosopher by education and a writer by trade, was a blogger of some repute – I followed him nearly religiously from the earliest 2000s until his abrupt departure from the blogosphere a couple years back – he quit his blog to save himself from his passion. His essay is absolutely worth reading in its entirety – I highly encourage it.
The reason I bring it up here on Musical Me is Sullivan’s discussion of making things – he writes, “We became who we are as a species by mastering tools, making them a living, evolving extension of our whole bodies and minds. What first seems tedious and repetitive develops into a skill — and a skill is what gives us humans self-esteem and mutual respect.” Playing the violin is like that for me. I’m totally into the slow growth, the mental gymnastics, the quality of the product, and my aspirations to the masters.
While I do understand that back-filling narrative explanations onto the impressionistic path of a lifetime can be tricky – our why-we-did-its quite often emerge into conscious thought only after the fact – I do think I’m onto something here. I’m thrilled to be tapping into the truth of music, to follow on the coattails of the thoughts of the late Dr. Oliver Sacks and others, being one of humanity’s most definitive innovations.
Thanks for reading.