The above article is a long and interesting article about the scientific and philosophical debate over conciousness. A good read if you have the time.
While I was in Australia I listened to the Thanksgiving Cowboys/Eagles game online. I obviously couldn’t get it on TV so it was my only option. My dad is from Philadelphia and I’m originally from Pennsylvania, so I’m a huge Eagles fan. Tonight I’m exhausted after four gigs in a row and a day in the studio. It’s rainy in Austin, and I enjoyed listening to the game in Australia, so I thought I would listen to the game on the radio tonight. I’m amazed at how much I enjoy listening to the games on the radio. Watching them on TV is better, but I have to say that listening to them is better than watching them on TV without sound. I can’t stand it when I go to a bar and my game is on, but it is not the one with sound on. At least for me I’ve realized that the sound of a game is just as important, if not more important than the visual side of it.
When you are listening to something, whether it is music or sports, the imagination takes over. Radio really is “theater of the mind”. It’s amazing how the human brain, if you are reading or you are listening to something, can create a whole visual world with simply sound or letters on a page.
Postscript: It’s amazing how much swearing mere sound can incite.
One thing that rings true to me as I get older is that there are few geniuses. When we are young we grow up thinking that those in power have some kind of secret knowledge that we don’t possess. I thought that they were smarter, better, and more wise than the average person. As you grow older those illusions are stripped away. There are very few Da Vincis and Jeffersons and true renaissance men or women in this world, those that excel at a wide variety of things.
I view the human brain as a muscle. Other than those one in a billion geniuses out there, most people of any intelligence spent time working out a certain series of mental muscles. A doctor spends their time working on the brain muscle that understands medicine. However, in focusing on working these muscles they very well might have let the brain muscles that are used for politics and music atrophy. A politician might understand the machinations of power, but that doesn’t mean they have spent time studying philosophy or flexing their empathy muscles. There are very men or women that we should put on a pedestal above us. There are just a lot of men and women that have spent time becoming experts at one or two things.
In this country we seem to view those that have success of some kind with a magic aura. I am very suspicious when there is talk of heroes and geniuses. Success is as much an indicator of luck as it is of hard work. My grandfather worked hard, six or seven days a week, as a factory’s electrical engineer while helping to raise eight kids. However, he never grew rich or famous. We are not responsible for the looks we are born with, the athletic abilities that we inherited, or the passions that seem to drive us. Often on top of being born with some kind of upper hand, those that are successful usually have mentors or parents that help them along the way. There might be other strokes of luck that help someone get to where they are. Bill Gates happened to live close to one of the only places that had computers to learn on.
I make my living right now as a musician. I had parents that exposed me to art and music, that bought me my first guitars, and that have supported me financially at times that I have needed it. I felt drawn to music for reasons that I can’t explain. I obsess over it in ways that someone else might feel compelled to obsess over biology or math. Yes I have worked hard, but I grew up in a household with two parents that worked hard. Did I learn it from them or is it just in my genes that when I feel passionate about something I can’t help but work on it? I moved to Austin to pursue music, an act that some people that I know felt was brave, although I’m sure some viewed it as foolish as well. My parents traveled a lot with me when I was a kid and we still go on trips to far away places. So going somewhere far away wasn’t really that much of a leap for me. I think that anyone that has accomplished anything other than day to day drudgery if even for just a couple years, if they are being honest, can look back and see where others helped them get where they are or see the benefits of their own genetic making.
When someone says that someone is successful with starry eyes, my only question to them is, “Are they a good person?” Kindness to others in the face of a world filled with absurdity is the only thing that really matters. If you are financially stable or doing something you love, you got lucky. Plain and simple. Be humble and remember to be kind. All luck runs out one day.