Tuesday, September 8, 2015

the Social Obligation of Introductions

First, a little introduction on your humble author. I am a professional musician and teacher. Pretty soon I'll be someone's father. I'm also a long-distance runner. I consider myself to be fairly well educated, goofy, laid back, and the kind of person who works well in chaos. I'm a fan of science, science fiction, movies, macaroni and cheese pizza, and all sorts of music.

If you had asked me - about me - ten years ago, I probably would have given you a cynical, self-deprecating reply. I'm attempting to be a more optimistic person.

I have been a musician since I was in fourth grade. I have played in many types of bands, and I have found a lot of fulfillment in the non-verbal communication through sound. I'm also a teacher of music and at different times over the past several years I've served around two to three hundred students a week. That's quite a bit of work.

My life is complicated in that one of the biggest loves in my life is music. Until I was about 19 years old I listened solely for joy. Solely for entertainment. About that time I started to consume the art form more for education, for work, and somewhat less for joy. Don't take that the wrong way – I think that's a good thing. You should go outside of your comfort zone whenever learning about something new. But for me music has made a lousy hobby for the same reason it has made a great job. I like it and I could spend forever with it. This means I don't mind putting in an eight hour day teaching scales and rhythm, only to come home and study four hours of music history and aesthetics on my own. It is inescapable in this way but that means that for recreation it isn't the best outlet.

Starting in about 2008 I started trying different hobbies to fill the gap of my once-recreational music listening. I learned how to bake bread (which I'm pretty mediocre at.) I learned how to brew beer (which I am downright terrible at.) I started reading novels by the great Russian realist authors and books on eastern thought. All of those things were good at filling the time and letting me try different skills. Each thing seems to have some connecting philosophy – each takes work, lots of preparation, and focus. In each trade tiny changes to any aspect of the development process effects the final product. As I'll cover in my next post I took up long-distance running thinking it would be something totally different, and thinking that it would change me for the better. I think I'm more at home in distance running but it isn't entirely dissimilar from the other disciplines I've studied.

Minor changes to one aspect of your training certainly changes the outcome of a race.

But I feel like the relentless “bang my head against the wall” attitude that I take when I'm enthusiastic about things is certainly more rewarded in endurance sport than it is in baking bread. In bread making, for example, you can "eat your mistakes". But no matter how much you love bread you can still only eat SO MANY mistakes. That limits the number of mistakes you can make in a week. I like being able to make unlimited mistakes.

I'm going to stop saying 'mistakes' now.

Anyway, I took up long distance running in 2012. Three years ago. The impact was pretty stunning. I'll have plenty of time to go into that in later posts, but rest assured that one of my life-long goals is to keep running. Allow me to be clear -- I'm not an elite athlete. I have no desire to be that. I just want to be an active participant in my own existence, and a big part of that is seeing the world through running.

I would love to be the 90 year old guy showing up on the weekend to rock out a 5k and get a t-shirt in addition to some sun.

I know the studies suggest that fetuses can begin to hear sounds as early as 19 weeks, but that doesn't seem quite real to me yet. One has to wonder exactly how much they absorb from sound in the outside world? I mean you don't form memories that early in your life. Still, is this established pattern of sounds what makes these familiar sounds comforting in our lives? One has to wonder.

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