Delight in Imperfections?

Fly Me to the Moon by Bart Howard

The good thing about working intensively on a group of songs, and then let them rest while going through others – and repeat until reaching the end – followed by another round, is that the songs that rest don’t. There is always something brewing – even in the songs that don’t get worked on at any given time. It’s like wine – the mellowing time is as important as the work-intensive time. Songs need sunshine, kneading through until they’re elastic, ferment until they’re rounded, and rest until they are ripe and mellow. It is a never-ending process and that is the delight of working with songs. That is true for music of any form or shape, but for me, the voice, and the piano stand in the foreground.

Come to think of it, writing in any shape or form goes through a similar process. This is my world. This is what gives my life meaning. That, and teaching. Everything else is fine, but not of the greatest importance. Of course, it is better to have enough money not to have trouble with bills or getting enough to eat. Of course, it is important to be able to get fresh and healthy products. Naturally, it is vital to have clothes to wear and keep one warm in winter and comfortable in the summer. All this goes without saying, but it isn’t the essence of being alive. No, it is enough to have enough. Being rich isn’t all that attractive. Just comfortable. There, as in many issues, Jane Austen and I agree.

Yes, one needs to be able to get sheet music, books, and necessary instruments – including the technical bits from PCs to cables as well as recording equipment and stands. Some would say it’s an expensive hobby to be artistically gifted. Others simply lean back and enjoy the music (or the books or the paintings). Yes, a little colour is also a necessity in my life. Does that make me greedy? Maybe, but not in the way money hoarders are greedy. After all, the things I need are essential for bringing my message across. Whether they are students, readers, or listeners matter little. These days, you can’t present music to many people without the internet. These days, you may have to resort to Skype or ZOOM to give lessons.

What an insane world we live in. When wasn’t it? Things may be rearranged from time to time, but the difference isn’t all that great. There were always leaders and followers, there were always thinkers, musicians, artists, and storytellers. There were always slaves and masters. Just saying. Mankind has remained inquisitive, power greedy, mad, inventive, stupid, intelligent, and foolish since we dropped out of the trees. We have messed up the planet since we had the idea to develop machines to do the work we were meant to do manually. By the way, who meant us to do anything? Any ideas? Me neither. It isn’t that simple to put the world to rights. What is right and wrong? It depends on who looks and where from. In hindsight, it is easy to put a finger on the raw points – but it isn’t helpful – not much anyway. Should we find out how to go back a rectify prior mistakes, other blunders are apt to appear. It is all right. We were never meant to be perfect. All we need to do is to live life with passion and compassion. That is still a tall order, but we must do or die.

Marc Chagall, The Circus

© HMH,2021

7 comments

  1. I had to think over your words for a while, taking each paragraph and digesting it for what I think you were trying to say, and how I could apply it to me, cause that’s what I do! I love your song analogy—songs can be like anything one creates. Music, wine, book, or recipes—all have to be an idea, then designed, built, tested (or tasted), modified, scrapped, and reworked until it can’t be made any better. One more ingredient, or word, might ruin it. Isn’t it a joy to look at something you’ve created?
    I also love your statement that writing is your world because it’s mine, as well. As long as I have my writing and have what I need to be comfortable enough to continue writing, I’m happy. I think that while it’s important to the creators out there that we produce something, others want to hear or read or taste—even if not, if there weren’t a reason to share my work, if no one wanted to read what I wrote, I’d still do it for my pleasure—creating and populating worlds for me alone to enjoy. That, to me anyway, is an actual creator.
    And as to your last comment—I’m at an age now where I am, unfortunately, perhaps selfish in my comfort, having tried to raise aware children, and watched the world change, much for worse, but enough for the better. It’s kind of redundant to say we can only do what we can do, but it’s true.
    In case you haven’t guessed, I really enjoyed peeking into a bit of what makes you who you are! Thank you.

  2. Thank you so much, Debi, for reading and thinking about it. That is the greatest compliment a writer can receive. You know that of course, but I can tell you that your comment made my day.
    You’re right. Writing is as important to me too. It is glorious when people read and get something out of reading what you write, but even if I were the last person on earth, I’d still be writing.
    I understand your thoughts about being a certain age and liking the available creature comforts. It is important for every human to have. Too bad that so many don’t get what they need.
    Yes, it is true that having done everything possible to raise children right, to help to change the world for the better, and having done so, to accept that you can only do what you can.
    That is my dilemma. Still, I believe in the simple fact that by doing what you can, by thinking and acting with passion and compassion, we do a lot towards making the world a better place. True, it is never enough — but we must be alive while we are here. Does that make sense? It is so easy to give up. Still, we live in hope.

    1. I think everyone who is trying to live a decent life of living within our means, raising our children, trying to give our friends and family the help we can, lives with a similar dilemma. Have I done enough? Should I have tried harder? There aren’t any answers, but I think that as long as each person feels they’ve done what they can and they’ve contributed what they can in time, energy, money, or what they have to give, to their small world then the world shouldn’t ask for more.

  3. You are right that all we can expect from people is that they live a decent life. It is up to the individual to decide if they want to do more. There are so many examples of those who went over and above expectations, but it would be wrong to expect everybody to do the same. What can I say? I don’t think the world asks for more. In many cases, I believe that the world asks for less. One thing is clear, we aren’t here to judge whether an individual did too little. That would be like throwing stones when we live in a glasshouse. The only thing we can do is to hope — and try to do our best.

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