Saturday, July 7, 2012

Unparalleled Joy

So, before I get going, I would really like you guys to watch this video.  
I found this video yesterday, while I was randomly watching a bunch of videos about how music affects our brains.  What this guy is demonstrating is the power of the pentatonic scale.  Now, the pentatonic scale is one of the first things we learn about music.  It is present in our lullabies, is the basis for a lot of our music education and is generally very present in our culture.  That is why the audience has such an easy time following along with the scale.  Now, while this concept is really cool in and of itself, I really don't know enough to tell you anything else about this.  What I wanted to write about was the singer Bobby McFerrin.  A note on the side of the video on the original page I viewed it on said that listening to his videos can cause a side effect of unparalleled joy.  And, I think that's a pretty good way to sum it up.  Watching him sing, you can see that he loves what he is doing.  And that is something that I love more than anything.  

I have had the chance to see this in several people. I think where I have the tendency to notice it the most is in music.  Being involved in music for a good portion of my life, I have had the chance to work with some really incredible musicians who are not much older than I am.  And what has come clear the most, is that music is nothing if there is no joy.  For example, for most of high school I took private flute lessons which meant at the end of the summer we put on a recital.  The supposed to be stars of the show, were my teachers twin daughters.  And they were excellent musicians.  They had perfect techniques and could play pieces that I couldn't even read there were so many notes.  However, when you listened to them all you heard was a bunch of perfect technique.  They didn't want to be a part of the recital, their mother was forcing them, and you could tell.  There was another student there, who was just a little bit more skilled than I was.  She wasn't an expert, but she was pretty good.  But, I loved listening to her.  She always made sure to pick pieces that she really liked, and you could tell that she really enjoyed playing them.  There was joy there, and in my opinion she was a hundred percent more entertaining than the prodigies.  

Another place that I have seen this is in martial arts.  During my time learning both Karate and Jiu Jitsu I have been gifted with some really amazing Sensei's (black belts).  And what always really struck me was the difference between watching them do techniques and watching others do techniques.  It's something more than skill.  This came through the clearest in Karate.  For each belt level we would work on katas, which are choreographed sequences of techniques.  They can be really beautiful when done well because the movements are very fluid and powerful.  When I would watch Sensei do these techniques, you could tell that these were moves that he had poured his concentration into doing correctly.  You could tell that he was very passionate about it.  It also came through in the way that he talked about martial arts in general.  

There are countless examples that I have seen of people who just really embrace what they are doing, and they are not afraid to show their joy.  Do you think that Bobby McFerrin is afraid of looking silly jumping around a stage and singing? Clearly not.  See, that's the cool thing about passion, it takes away all of those other things.  

This is kind of the reason that anyone who has been in a class with me, may have a slightly different view of me.  Because for some reason, when I am in class, I don't shut up.  I actually love class discussions.  Now, generally this is if I am in a class that I enjoy, especially English classes.  Because words are something that I am really passionate about.  And I don't care how silly it is, I get linguistics books out of the library, and I read everything I can find.  And so, when I have a chance to talk about something that I love, I go for it.  Because when you follow passion, you have a chance to experience this unparalleled joy.  

So, the next step, that I have been trying to take, is to extend this joy into other things.  See, my theory is, that if I can approach everything that I love, with the same passion that I love to see in other people than I will no longer have to worry about fear stopping me from doing something.  And I have been working on this for a while, and it honestly works pretty well.   Generally the only side effect, is me being ridiculously happy over simple things.  Which I've decided that I am not afraid to show anymore.  I will skip down to the dining hall if the nice day has put me in a good mood, and I will jump up excitedly if someone suggests mudslidding, just the same as I will sing along to songs I like even if there are people around and I will continue to talk with all my passion when I'm in class.  Because if the only side effect of this is unparalleled joy, I think it's worth keeping up.  

Thanks for reading,

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