Watching Starker’s master class is a bit like how Brahms must have felt with Beethoven looking over his shoulder. But I have realized something. Nobody can be a clone of anybody else. Starker tempts you because he is so decisive and incisive. Talking about laws of playing. Not that I totally disagree with his premise. He is brilliant, naturally.
However, his brilliance can’t discount my or another’s brilliance. One way of saying it is that… well, actually that. We can say the same or almost the same concepts, but in different ways. We don’t necessarily disagree with one another. But we have to find our way of expressing it. Like, when I discovered that the difficulty in the left hand stems from the existence and thereby impedance of the neck, it may be closely related to his law of circles. But my brain and my body cannot fully ingest his philosophy and concepts. I will choke a bit. My own truths will sound and look a bit different, even if they had similar roots.
Maybe once you’ve grown up, you easily lose that thread which connects your adult personality to the childhood experiences that shaped it. It’s hidden, that thread. It takes a special kind of observation to reimagine it, to recapture it. Not common observation. This place – Thailand – and this space – blogging – give my mind and heart allowance to escape their ordinary patterns. I question the sort of subject matter I lean towards here. But it is the most important stuff to the likes of me, at least. It would be a wasted opportunity if I didn’t go there. It is one of the very few places I can explore these deeply crucial issues.
That scene in Sleepers. It can haunt me. At times. That is one good reason why I journal. That is one reason I sleep with the XM radio on. Next to my head, yes. Things haunt me. I am affected by things, despite what I let on. That is why I am a good musician. I am affected. I am just not great at understanding and articulating and acting on those things. So I inact. Not enact.
I need friends and lovers to hold my hand. To help stabilize me. To help me walk. Life is too overwhelming otherwise. I can’t fathom the reality of it. Like in Sleepers. I can’t fathom the cruelty. The pleasure in being cruel.
I can’t believe I act tough. I can’t believe I act like I know it all. Do I have to do that in order to get along? In certain circumstances, yes. But I need to weed those out of my life, it seems. I need to find places in the world where I can be true to myself. I think I have done that to some degree.
Being in Thailand this month is once again opening a window for me. Turning on lights inside myself. I can see what hides. What scurries into corners, under carpets.
Maybe music allows for such a shriveled, spontaneous, fractured personality. Maybe music benefits from it. Maybe music requires it. The arts. Larger than life. Your problems, your passions, your dreams, your dips.
It’s nuts. I somehow latched on to one of the few things that flourishes in my insanity. It’s built in to our society. We allow for it.
Maybe I had a perfect childhood. Maybe I pick up everything, good and bod, so it could seem I had it bad. Maybe I am hazy because that’s the way I am.
That’s been my working theory for a long time now. That’s the beauty of theorizing. It is not fact, but it can be your version of fact until a better one trumps it.
I eat when I’m not hungry. I don’t drink when I am thirsty. I stay awake when I am tired. I remain sedentary when my body thirsts for exercise. I waste time in myriad ways when I have important work to be done. I am sad when life hands me opportunities for joy. I get distracted when I am in dire need of focusing. I get obsessed with useless, inane actions. I get angry when everything is fine. I am pleased when there are clear problems.
There are some good examples of my broken compass. I must go back to square one. I must be vigilant. In a sense I must do what George prescribes. Look for all opportunities where the contrasting action is right and my tendency/instinct is wrong. Maybe that’s why writing is good for me. It is somewhere in the nether region between inaction and action. It’s where I have a moment to reconsider what I’m thinking.
It occurs to me that everything can be explained if I determine that it’s been all wrong since the outset. Some combination of who I am, how I was raised, where I was raised and the potential pitfalls of my species have collided to make this leech. This hollow vessel. This moral nonentity. It reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where George realizes that all he has to do is the exact opposite of what he believes is right, and that will be what works.
I kind of have to do that. I think I have to make an attempt at starting over again from scratch. Really from the beginning. Not in fits and starts like I usually try to make changes. But wholesale. I really am topsy turvy. It’s all a mistake. From some rotten start. Maybe it was the incident in 1776 that did it. Maybe it was more recent. It seems there are enough good examples around me to give me some sense of what is really right or wrong.
It is that moral/personal compass thing again. Mine is broken. I don’t know how to make the right decisions. I follow others along their path, hoping that it’s a good one. Trying to sense their capacity for wisdom and joy. That would also explain my failed attempts at theism. It was an effort to find a guide. Too bad that it doesn’t take much effort for me to think my way out of that box. Box of nails.
Not having any clue seems to have its advantages. If I had a clue I could explain them. Maybe there’s an innocence, and openness. Maybe this condition finally explains my musical ability. There is much to draw from if you’ve been confused and suffering spiritually since your very early existence.
This also explains why I put only random titles on my blogs. I don’t actually understand what I am writing. The ruminations just pour out. It is cathartic. I don’t really know where it stems from, and I don’t know when I’ve completed my idea. I have minimal wherewithal. But I am a vessel for wisdom. Just as I am a vessel for musicianship.
I’m a badass. Not for the reasons you think. Depending who you are. It’s the little tiny things. It’s breathing. It’s writing. It’s the little victories. It’s succeeding where I have previously failed. Expressing myself here is an example of an instance where I previously couldn’t find the wherewithal to express myself. I learned, and I forged into unknown territory. I dared. For me, that is worthy of the moniker badass. Exercising control in a situation that tempts me to let loose, to forge directly into a favorite territory of mine, is badass.
In my case, badass doesn’t really look badass to an outside observer. Me acknowledging that I’m badass is badass, too. Standing my ground against someone who thinks they’re a badass is being badass.
Okay, this is important. It’s one thing to know right and wrong. It’s one thing to know what’s the right thing to do, and what’s the ill-fated thing to do. The trouble is, there are so many little tiny decisions in a day. How am I going to know until after the fact which path is the right one to take? I say that I am learning. Is that really true? Is that really the essence of learning? Accumulating information in order to make the right decisions more often?
Learning Without Accumulation is the title of a Krishnamurti book. I try to teach Cody the essence of wisdom and understanding.
It’s like a see-saw. Or a pendulum. On one end is the bad, addictive, unhealthy things one is attracted to. On the other are the pure antidotes that enact a recovery. I guess I am trying to manage that swing, and in so doing, learning. Little by little I swing less and less. I make fewer and fewer mistakes, and therefore need less and less extreme antidotes. But the pure antidotes instead are becoming a solace for me, a source of wisdom. I want to take them out of the realm of the see-saw effect. Maybe the midpoint, the fulcrum of the see-saw is moving in the direction of health, if I’m living right. So if it ever does eventually stop, it will be in a beautiful place.
Every time I break any of the commandments of health and wisdom, I feel I am back to square one. Even if I am not. I feel it. It is not so much a question of evidence. How could I possibly keep track of my progress? It’s not a life lived if you are only tabulating and charting all the time. That’s been a little achilles issue with me. Not living. Retreating to analysis. I do like to do it. (As is apparent here, I suppose.) (I’d like to think the not so subtle difference between analyzing and philosophizing distinguishes my process.)
Haven’t posted for awhile. Imagine that. It’s a little like coming home though, isn’t it? Maybe my exploration into humanism explains that to some degree. This is a human, not superhuman, exercise and exploration. I never knew it, but I was raised and live my life as a humanist. Not as anything else.
I guess I thought I could notate a couple of discoveries I’ve come upon lately. I unhinged some degree of relief from my left hand pain. I haven’t really verbalized it yet, so it’s a bit foggy. One thing is that the bottom of my hand must be an equal player in this whole exercise. It’s not all about the top. The first realization I had, which I shared with my colleagues, is that the neck is precisely where my thumb wants to be, should be. So I experimented with miming the left hand on thinner, smaller objects, and it seemed to prove my theory out. That was until I tried it on a guitar. Then I realized that there is something else which must be an impediment besides the height of the neck. As it turns out, the width is just as much of a problem, just as on a guitar. Just realizing and acknowledging this issue already helped. Negotiating the obstacle course which is the cello neck will continue to be my task. That is why I started by saying I must give the lower part of the hand great credence in all of this. That is the part which deals with this maze from moment to moment.
The other discovery is regarding another favorite pet peeve of mine – eating. I now see utterly clearly why there are so many fat/chunky people walking around. Restraining yourself from eating til you’re stuffed is just really fucking difficult. And finding that delicate balance between undereating and overeating is nearly un-do-able. I am saying this because I have realized the most obvious thing in the world, the thing I’ve been reticent to admit all these years. You must eat less and move more in order to get to a happy physical state. And when you eat less, you will feel hungry, or at the very least hungrier. So, how horrible is being hungry? Perhaps not so much. Perhaps at my middle age I have discovered worse sensations in life than hunger. Your weight is not a static animal, it is fluid. It is unfair to judge yourself, either positively or negatively, for something that is in a constant state of flux.
So it hasn’t been a fluke or a character defect after all. It is all about duality. Everything I do causes me to react back. Everything done looks for its opposite. Or some kind of contrary reaction, if an exact opposite isn’t available. Ideally, you don’t do anything. You sit and meditate on nothingness. Because once you do something (eat, walk, converse, laugh, cook) you are only asking for it. I suppose you can attempt to keep the doing to a minimum. Or you can constantly be on guard for the reactions. It seems, however, that being on guard can only mean one thing – meditating. All things come back to meditating on nothingness. On the void. I told Cody that that void is the truth, the reality. All else is distraction. Duality equals distraction. All that is dual is nothing more than a distraction, and it’s distracting us from the truth. It’s a game. Do most people see that? Are we doomed? Why do only a select few pursue that truth? Is it because of what I’m reading about sapiens? A little intelligence can only lead to trouble. It takes a greater amount to get out of it. Is wisdom acquired through knowledge and experience, or is it innate? Why is so much wisdom required to stop thinking? Perhaps the daftest among us are also privy to that fact.
The follow up question is whether this knee jerk reacting is hard wired or adjustable. Reading Sapiens, it would appear almost everything is hard wired to some degree or another. Hard wired biologically, socially, ecologically, culturally, and from the distant past or more recently. Maybe the idea of meditating is to unwire ourselves as much as possible. One wonders how deep you can go with that. You look for the deepest part of yourself I guess. It does feel like blogging taps deep parts, and unglues the adhesive causing stuck-nesses in one’s thinking and behaving.