Do we really master the art of living?

Taking up something that is not necessarily related to your field of work or simply to your general interests is almost always met up with a deprecatory gaze followed by judgmental questions such as “And how will that help you?”, ”Will that be of any practical use?”, “Is it really worth it?” or others along the same lines. Call me slow on the uptake, but I just don’t see why should every action we undertake have strictly a palpable result for our profession, as if we were some machines that always require the same fuel, always have the same  type of output, and for which every improvement regards solely their parts that are relevant for the general production.

Why do we let ourselves encaged in lives that only aim at surviving as long as possible and as comfortable as possible, without giving priority to what we really require to be happy? Do we really live for ourselves, or merely for the idea of going on?

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Not having any connection with music whatsoever (except as an avid admirer), I suddenly decided to take up an instrument, much to my parents’ chagrin. Having taken that decision, making up my mind on one was an intense delight, as I propitiously discovered. I learned how when it comes to this kind of decision you should simply close your eyes, live the sounds of each particular instrument and let yourself be enticed by the one without reasoning too much. Just let it come to you by itself, you’ll be surprised.

Thus immersed in this whole intuitive and ludic selection process, I chose nothing other than the so-called ‘The Devil’s instrument‘, the all too seductive violin. Why? Well because I was  irreversibly lured by its mind-blowingly human-like sounds. Human in the sense that each stroke of that devilish bow resembled in my opinion the deepest cries, fears and joys within our souls, hidden even from ourselves, as opposed for instance to the piano (which I nevertheless highly esteem) that seemed to me a bit more impersonal. Plus, having to hold it in between your head and your chest expresses in my view precisely how intimate one gets with it.

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 Now I’m well aware of how long it’s gonna take me to make it sound decent (depending on how much I practice, of course), but it’s well worth it, since I’m doing it for nobody but me. Playing it (or attempting to) not only teaches me how to synchronize my mind and my body, but it makes me unveil parts of my being that have been a complete mystery to me till now. On the wings of those divine sounds (despite them sometimes being scratchy- which is unavoidable for beginners, I got used to it) I am actively undergoing perhaps the most worth-wile experience possible, which is getting  to know myself, as well as forgetting myself. That is to say, I’m resolutely letting loose of all the pompous layers of irrelevant details about my person, to get closer to the underlying essence of my being. I am not a name, an age or a title. Who am I,really?

Don’t ever, as long as you can help it, deny yourself a seemingly irrelevant urge when it’s dictated from the depths of your mind. Even our unconscious desires are perfectly logical, only we don’t have access to the particular chain of reasoning at a first glance.

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The first time I gently yet greedily placed the violin on my shoulder I kept asking myself how did I end up there and why, but after a few sessions it all started to make sense, I simply knew. I knew that this is what I have to do, this is part of who I am and who I want to become-and I don’t regret it in the least!

Suddenly, at the age of 40, I began to paint. Not that I consider myself a painter (or intended to become one), but painting is marvelous (…). At this painting many of my friends have taken offence , I don’t have very much luck that way. Whenever I undertake something very necessary, auspicious and beautiful, people become cross. They would like one to stay as he is, they don’t want one’s face to change. But my face will not conform. (…)- Herman Hesse

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18 responses to “Do we really master the art of living?

  1. Great post! Loved these lines in particular: ” I learned how when it comes to this kind of decision you should simply close your eyes, live the sounds of each particular instrument and let yourself be enticed by the one without reasoning too much. Just let it come to you by itself, you’ll be surprised.”

    • Oh I am glad you do, it is exactly what I did myself to discover that it’s the violin I should learn, and I have not regretted it for a second! Do you yourself play an instrument or consider picking one up? I always find this particular detail about other people fascinating! 😀

      • I don’t play an instrument at this time. I did play the tenor saxophone at one time in school. I was intrigued by the alternating sounds from highs to very lows that made me feel the music more than hearing it. I should pick up playing an instrument again, because I remember at the time when I did play it felt like I was in a different world, I guess my own one that was a great feeling of enjoyment and peace within. Thanks for asking the question, I haven’t thought about this in years. 🙂

      • Oh well I am an advocate of people trusting their passions and if you really felt that way picking it up once more could not harm you…It might be just what you need to feel more fulfilled!

      • Your absolutely right. It definitely couldn’t hurt to explore it once again and see what happens. My current passion I have discovered within myself is photography. Every time I go out to take pictures it puts me in a profoundly blissful state of mind capturing the beauty that only nature can provide. I discover new passions within my self all the time and re kindling old passions is great for personal growth as well. I really appreciate your thoughts and encouragement on such things. I look forward to more rewarding conversations on topics with you.

      • I keep discovering new passions myself as well all the time! I thank you once again for taking the time to read my articles and to express an honest opinion, I really appreciate it!

  2. After reading a bunch of your articles, your historic knowledge is undeniable. You articulate your articles very well and was definitely my pleasure to read them, very insightful for sure. If you haven’t wrote a novel you should.

    • Well as a matter of fact I have started one, but stopped for a while since I’ve got some exams to pass. But I plan to dedicate this summer entirely to my writing (poems as well, not only the novel). Actually this has been my dream ever since I was a child, so working on it is simply so fulfilling!

      • Really glad to hear that! I will definitely purchase a copy when it comes out. I am also really happy to see someone fulfill their dreams as well. Great feeling to have when you are fulfilling your dreams isn’t it?

      • Oh yes indeed, it makes one feel so alive! Especially in my case since I’ve noticed that I’m either thoroughly passionate about something and dedicate to it my heart and soul or simply don’t care. I regard passion as the essence of life, what keeps us from having that sort of cyclic life (work to get money to sustain yourself and then work again and so on). Otherwise we’d be just like animals that live for self-preservation…when we have that amazing creative power within us!

      • I totally agree! Well said. If you are going to give your heart and soul into something, it needs to be something you love and nothing less. A great artists work is a reflection of their passion.

    • Well actually it’s more about psychology. It’s about a girl that discovers who she is by making psychological experiments on herself. That is to say she puts herself on purpose in certain situations that she wouldn’t have ever done otherwise just to see her reactions and what that says about herself. She’s trying to see what’s the essence of herself (and ultimately of human beings) and where it’s just about other layers of experience and how those shape us.

  3. Very very fascinating. I can see readers being drawn in by each experience she faces and thinking about how maybe they can relate in the same way with their own lives taking in a perspective on human beings that they have not thought about before. Sounds like a great novel. It’s not like you need motivation to finish it, but I just want to encourage you to do so, I would really love to read it. I like the way you think. Keep in touch.

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