Remember the old Facebook? I mean, the old Facebook. I mean, the OLD Facebook. Back when you had to log in to thefacebook.com with a .EDU email address. Back when the homepage had the list of schools that were coveted members of the walled blue garden with that face in the upper-left corner. Back when you didn’t have zombie wars or mafia wars, just poke wars. Back when your favorite quote of some inside joke from your dorm floor was right on your profile page and not hidden five clicks under your secondary yet larger profile pic. Here is mine, by Martin Luther King, Jr.:
If a man is to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause and say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
Essentially, be the best at whatever you do. Sounds trite, yes no? It’s just not that exciting. Doesn’t have that special somethin’ somethin’. Being some generic ‘most good’ at some activity comes off as very… impersonal. So let’s inject a tonne (1000 kilograms, which is more than the more familiar ‘ton’, which is 2000 pounds, which is 907.19 kilograms) (you’re welcome) of personality in.
Let’s thus talk about a Cadenza!
…a piece of furniture that became very fashionable during the second half of the 19th century. Often made of a burnished and polished wood decorated with marquetry, a central cupboard would be flanked by symmetrical quadrant glass display cabinets. The top would often be made of marble, or another decorative stone, or of inlaid wood.
Crap, that was a Credenza. Not the type of ‘personality’ I was going for. Let’s try again.
…an improvised or written-out ornamental passage played or sung by a soloist or soloists, usually in a “free” rhythmic style, and often allowing for virtuosic display.
That’s a Cadenza. Much better. You hear the personality in that? Soloist! Virtuoso! It’s not just showing off, though; it is an opportunity to pour your heart into your art. It is your heart, so it is in a unique style that is distinctly yours, and nobody else’s. It is your heart, so it is your essence and undeniably associated with your core.
…and doesn’t all that sound better than ‘best’?
In brief, I’ll unflourishingly channel my inner Forrest Gump and end this by submitting another shade of ‘find your life path’: Life is like a cadenza. Find an art into which you can pour your heart.
MUSICALLY TAOIST POST-SCRIPT:
Alright you music geeks, I’m talking to you. We know cadenzas are indicated by a fermata over a ‘rest’. Thus, this held space represents… potential. The way we’re told the sky is the limit and we’re free to go nuts, shedding shame to share our virtuosity, is via a vacuum explicitly laden with possibility. A cadenza is both (visually) empty and (audibly) full.
The notes that are played are unwritten… cadenzas are indicated by an ‘uncarved block’… I’d call this pure potential the closest musical equivalent to Pu. Sounds deep, yes no?
(Too close for missiles. Switching to guns.)