On Musical Literacy

“Art and life are not two separate things.”

~ Felix Mendelssohn

In hindsight, one of my biggest regrets is not having taken my piano lessons more seriously as a child. Music plays an integral role in the development of the human identity, and the musicians of the past only become more relevant and phenomenal with time. A great musician, like a great painter or novelist, transcends technical proficiency. He brings to his work his upbringing, his faults and his strengths, enabling him to produce a unique work of art through which to tell his story. And just like a good painting or a good book, a good musical composition can have a unique effect on its listener.

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Taking the Plunge

“They lead, each Brother plummeting from the tower and landing safely below in a bale of hay. They are like eagles. Truly free. I do not hesitate. The fall feels like a flight. Exhilarating!”

~ Perotto Calderon

Stepping back from social media is no easy endeavour — to maintain social dexterity, particularly in youth (I reckon it is not as important in later years), it requires a recalibration of one’s social behaviour.  One must acknowledge that liberation from the gravity of social media comes at the cost of a heightened responsibility to reach out to those who matter most. The beauty is that it is your choice who matters.

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Schrödinger’s Cat

“I went to bed with a calm and happy spirit. Great Lord, help me walk in Thy paths: (1) to flee anger by gentleness and deliberation; (2) to flee lust by self-restraint and loathing; (3) to escape from the turmoil of the world without cutting myself off from (a) the duties of my political work, (b) the cares of my household, (c) relations with my friends, and (d) the management of my finances.”

~ Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

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The Sisyphean Task

“Do not judge or you too will be judged. In the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the same measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

~ Matthew 7:1-2

It is impossible as a conscious being not to formulate opinions or to categorize independent of the influence of our own unique experiences and emotions. It is what makes us human and it is unavoidable. It is an essential tool of the human conscious which has served us well over time, allowing us to defend ourselves from predators and form groups of like-minded individuals, leading to synergistic progress.

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“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

~ Matthew 6:34

Do you ever think about how little time we have left, how everything, everyone, in our life could be gone tomorrow? I wonder if it’s healthy to think about the finitude of life with such pessimism. There is surely a way to see the beauty in such finitude, to see the beauty in the limited time we all have on this planet. It can be intimidating to look forward to the future, given the hardships and pain one has endured to reach the present, with optimism. In an instant, we could be facing someone or something that we had never imagined would come so soon.

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”

~ Mark Twain

On February 3rd I was on board the TTC subway, taking the train from York Mills, where I was visiting a good friend of mine from college, to the Union station where I was planning to take a bus back to my hometown. We had stayed up late that night, and I languidly pulled out the book I had brought with me. As I sat on the train for the short ride, a man in a wheelchair, a beggar, made his way from the back of the train to the front, a cup in hand. As he made his way from my 9 clock to my 12, I paused to acknowledge the man, then returned to my book. I had money, and I should have given it to him.

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On Reading

“Education begins the gentleman, but reading, good company, and reflection must finish him.”

~ John Locke

2018 was a year of significant tribulation and reconstruction for me, however (I think) I have emerged on the other side a more complete and purposeful individual. One can draw from strength they never knew they possessed in their lowest moments, and I found this to be particularly true this year. A place of unfathomable strength and wisdom is books, and I have turned to them for answers on many occasions.

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The Constitution of Greatness

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

~ Winston Churchill

There is much to offer in reading the biographies of the great men and women of the world. History should be seen as a guide for the future; human beings, as much as we are unique, are quite similar and predictable in our actions and are therefore easily controlled. The human species has been able to flourish not simply because of our supreme cognitive abilities, but also because we are all essentially one in the same, allowing us to find common ground and understand the struggles of one another. The genetic make up of my own being is for the most part identical to that of your own; the difference genetically between individuals is estimated to be around 0.1%. This applies to other species as well; through our genetic lineage, we can see how it is possible that the behaviours exhibited in a chimpanzee are similar to that of our own. And in turn, there are innate traits that are present in each and every one of us.

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The Quintessential Man

“The individual has always had to struggle from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is hard business. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”

~ Rudyard Kipling

When one is young, creative abilities are at an all time high. It is in our youth where our greatest ideas and motivations plant their roots. It should therefore be the ultimate goal of human nature to fertilize this; to not let it wither away with time. Societal structure promotes obedience, and in doing so promotes the death of creativity.

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