Monday, July 14, 2008

The List of 29

I used to write an announcement of sorts, listing the things I’ve learned or the things I believe in since the past year. A manifesto of sorts. This year the list is a little different – it’s as much things I look forward to knowing, and things I should know, as things I do know.
  1. I’ve learned that a movement is less sweet outside of the rest of the suite. Always see the big picture.
  2. Don’t apologize for being corny. Just don’t do it too often.
  3. Find out why I can’t practice without a constant influx of caffeine.
  4. Appreciate the opportunities for completely random conversations, whether or not they go anywhere.
  5. When reminiscing, check the pulse of the audience from time to time.
  6. Find out why I do my best thinking in the shower, and either replicate it elsewhere… or occasionally go play in the rain.
  7. Put some time aside to listen to something that I haven’t listened to in a while.
  8. There’s nothing wrong in being honest about having spiritual ambiguity. You can choose to believe in some things, but you can’t truly be forced to believe anything that you don't believe.
  9. There’s joy in knowing all the things I don’t know. Where would the fun be in looking to tomorrow otherwise?
  10. I still think 90% of pop music is absolute rubbish. The remaining 10% is pretty cool, though – and more often than not, British.
  11. Try to be as honest as truthful. Even if it’s a real bummer to do so. Especially about what really counts.
  12. There’s nothing wrong with being an idealist, so long as you aren’t an idiot at the same time.
  13. Be more self-assured that not being in this box or that box is alright. If I allow people to put me in a metaphorical box, chances are it’ll be on a metaphorical street.
  14. Let some things pass. Or try to, anyway.
  15. Getting older means seeing things less in terms of black and white. But don’t drown in the grey.
  16. American spelling does make some sense, so long as it doesn’t include musical terminology. Darn “quarter” notes.
  17. Find out whether it’s a problem that I can’t find stuff I want to read to the end, and I tend to read to the end books in the often unfulfilled hope that they might get better.
  18. For better or worse, I’m a grammatical traditionalist. And yet I have sentences like this one.
  19. The way smoking works is that it gives you a need which it then relieves. It’s like a doctor who shoots you in the foot, puts it in a cast and drops the bill in your lap.
  20. The one thing that is particularly dangerous for people who have quit smoking is second-hand smoke. Because I can still tell exactly what you’re smoking from one whiff. Some skills are scary, eh?
  21. I think that the idea of having a “sensitive” musician is not an emotional thing at all – it’s about the ability – and propensity – to adapt. It’s the only way to learn without being told what to do.
  22. The real consolation of truly tough experiences is the ability to be the ones able to console others credibly later.
  23. Stop worrying if I need to be more interesting, or more interesting in person than online. I’m a violist, after all. Being any more interesting can be… a very… dangerous… thing.
  24. Stop counting.
  25. See how well that turned out?
  26. Keep this idea alive: making Penang a more viable place for all our young musicians to return. [You might find it interesting that the original sentence read: Keep the idea of making Penang a more viable place for all our young musicians to return alive.]
  27. Don’t feel too bad that I’ve turned from tea aficionado to drinking teh tarik and chai. Life’s too short to count on having a constant supply of lapsam souchong.
  28. Don’t worry if I never, ever, come to like Bartok’s Viola Concerto. Just remember to learn it one of these days. Always eat your vegetables.
  29. Learn to be comfortable, and come to terms with, keeping some things personal. Easier said than done.

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