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?
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.
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.
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