Thursday, June 19, 2008

on wisdom and joy...

I was thinking this morning about the phrase..."If I only knew then what I know now." It seems logical that increased wisdom would result in increased joy...but, does it? If I had known, back when I was 13, that everybody lies, for example, that would have been a useful piece of wisdom for me to possess at such a young age. But, would it have made me happier? I can look back and say, "Back when I was young and foolish..." and fill in those blanks however I want. The kicker is, even though I was making mistakes and trusting people when I shouldn't be, I was happy doing it. There is a sense of peace that comes with naivete. Gaining intelligence in certain areas does not always mean you will gain a sense of bliss about the same area. When I used to listen to music while in high school, my main concern was how to harmonize with the melody, and how the song made me feel inside. As I went through college and studied music, suddenly I was listening for things like major sixths vs. minor thirds, and why they were the same notes but sounded different; counterpoint; use of computers and how I could hear a synthesized sound vs. a "real" sound; ostinatos; sequences; chord progressions; and my personal favorite, picardy thirds, to name just a few. Suddenly, listening to music became an intricate mental game, and a way to pique my interest whenever a new song came on the radio. What key was it in? Where did they sample that bass line from? Where have I heard that phrase before? Why didn't they use real instruments for that? Why did they use that progression? What's up with that sequencing? Why that static modulation there? It did become more challening to listen in that manner, and I definitely had learned things I didn't know before about my favorite subject, music. BUT, did I have more fun listening to music now? Or less? I try hard to "keep the magic" involved when listening to music now. I try to appreciate the fact that John Denver, for example, is one of the greatest bridge writers of all time, and keep myself from analyzing why his bridges are so amazing. I'm sure there are some determining factors that make his bridges catch my ear just so and make me want more. I could sit down and analyze the chords, pick it apart and try to "left brain" it all...but, would my soul still feel the joy? In ways of the heart and soul, (of which music is my personal master) I will always feel it is probably more satisfying to JUST LISTEN, as opposed to looking so closely. Maybe being naive and open can be as important sometimes as analyzing and scrutinizing; surely you can weigh happiness vs. intellect, but which one is more important to you in the end? I am glad my ear is able to pick the things up that it can, but I still cherish my ability to enjoy the music for music's sake, and not always because it has a kick-ass chord progression and a beautiful picardy third at the end. I guess it's all in how you look at it, and what your personal priorities in life are. I still say there's something to be said for knowing less, feeling more. When I was in fifth grade, my parents bought an old upright piano for $35...I was thrilled to be able to play music on it. It was always woefully out of tune, and even once the tuner came, never held pitch for long. Did the music sound better once I left home and played on "in tune" pianos in college? That's a question for my soul to answer.

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