Monday, May 14, 2007

Jason Heath and "still other things"

Jason Heath published a fascinating essay on the perils of a music performance degree:

Road Warrior Without an Expense Account Part IX – Rethinking Music Performance Degrees

I've been lucky to stay out of serious debt, but only through the kindness and generosity of many people. And I was out of school for two years before joining the New World Symphony, and another 3 years before winning the Calgary Phil audition this spring.

Jason made me think of a passage from Rilke's letters, and since I didn't want to clog up his comments I'll post it here:

I once stood on a bridge in Paris and saw from a distance on a road leading down to the river a suicide victim wrapped in oilcloth. He had just been pulled dead from the Seine. Suddenly I heard someone next to me say something. It was a young blond carter in a blue jacket, very young, strawberry blond, with a smart, clever, pointed face. On his chin was a wart from which sprouted almost exuberantly a stiff bunch of red hairs like a paintbrush. Since I turned toward him, he pointed with a nod of his head toward the object that elicited our attention and said, winking at me: "Don't you think, this one over there, since he was able to manage that, he surely could have done still other things as well."

I followed him with my gaze, astonished, while he was already walking back to his enormous cart filled with rocks, for truly: what would one not be able to achieve with exactly that strength that is necessary to untie the strong and mighty bonds of life! Since that day, I know with absolute certainty that even the worst turn of events, that even despair is only abundance, that it is an onslaught of our being that could be forced in the opposite direction with one single decision of the heart. Where something becomes extremely difficult and unbearable, there we also stand always already quite near its transformation.

- Rainer Maria Rilke, The Poet's Guide to Life: The Wisdom of Rilke, p. 108

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