Cadenza

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.)

Life Is Like A Burrito

You go to a party. You chat up the peeps. You talk small-talk: the weather, them Yankees, the Ebola virus. You are offered a shot. You take it: yarrghthhpffft. You then ask what was in it: cheap stuff. You are asked what you do for a living. You take note of the crowd. You make a decision.

You lie.

Face it. Saying you’re a biomedical engineer results in one of two things. With the right crowd, you’ll get into a discussion about biomechanics, tissue engineering, fascinating research, genetics, medical devices that measure your heart rate and how much oxygen you have in your blood and go ‘beep’, the latest biomedical thing you read online that’s hot, weird, funky, and/or cool. With the left crowd, you get a face of feigned, short-term interest, “Oh, cool…”

So, you lie.

You say your major was biomedical engineering and that you went to grad school for more pain – I mean – biomedical engineering. Now you work for Taco Bell. Taco Bell MSG. The Taco Bell Motivational Speaking Group. You take note of the crowd. You take note of the faces of incredulousness, raining confusion upon you, sprinkled with intrigue. You compare this to faces of feigned, short-term interest: this is better.

You explain to them that not too many people know about this group, besides the tight circle of motivational speakers, and that’s how you like it. You step them through what you are first taught, affectionately called the Central Little Dogma. You deliver this while channeling your inner Antonio Banderas. You step them through Antonio Banderas: rrroll yourrr ‘R’rrrs, rrremove all yourrr dipthongs, have all yourrr vowehls vehrrry clee-ehrrr, ahnd weespehrrr VEHRRRY LAH-OODLY. AH YEHSS.

You lay it on them thick, you charming devil, you.

Life is like a burrito. Life is like a burrito where you have full control of what you put inside your burrito. You can put in the tastiest components, the most delicious ingredients. Or, you can put in shit. It is up to you. You have full control of what you put inside your burrito. Now, it is not only important what you put inside your burrito, how much and the quality, but it is also important who you share your burrito with. For just as you may be having some burrito of that special somebody, you must think about the burrito you yourself will be sharing.

You stop here. You take note of the crowd. You take note of the giggles: this is good, this is better than faces of feigned, short-term interest. You are into it. You are in the zone. You can go on. You can go on because this lie is just so damn fascinating and saturated with silliness: perfect for parties, perfect for… life.

You will undoubtedly have somebody believe you, you charming devil, you.

You will undoubtedly start to believe yourself.

What Are Questions?

Riding the T home from work, surrounded by Red Sox fans and other fellow Massholes, I find a strategic spot in the train car where I can stand lookin’ all cool ‘n’ stuff and read blog posts on my wikked smaaht phone in relative peace, tucked away from the ebb and flow of baby carriages, clueless tourists staring at the Green Line map, fresh college freshmen wearing their lanyards like an Olympic medal, and seasoned locals who are plugged in and tuned out.

That’s when my head explodes.

There is a mess. It’s fugly. I’m rather embarrassed. Lucky for me, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, plus one eggs-pert, put me back together again. I had some ‘splaining to do. I told the team of onlookers teeming with curiosity and gore that I had just read a literally mind-blowing blog post. Consider this the lit fuse to the detonating words that made it rain white- and grey-matter like a spontaneous rainbow, a weather event unnaturally left out of the Metro. I apologize in advance.

Questions are places in your mind where answers fit. If you haven’t asked the question, the answer has nowhere to go. It hits your mind and bounces right off. You have to ask the question – you have to want to know – in order to open up the space for the answer to fit.

Hi again. Sorry to do that to ya. So now that you’re back, let’s talk about this.

I got this gem, entitled ‘What are questions?‘, from the Signal vs. Noise blog by 37signals. Think of all the answers that are bouncing off your now-duct-taped mind. If you’re not asking the right questions, you won’t be ready to appreciate the right answers, even if they’re being flung at you. Likewise, sudden ideas and opportunistic openings in life can’t be seen in a fruitful light if you don’t have the intention to get your ScrumOfOne stories to done.

So, ask the question. Actively intend to move along your very own life vector. That’s when the answers, that may be already in front of you, will stick.

Sorry for the splitting head(…ache). I’m sure you’ll agree ’twas worth it.