Giving Way to Passion

This might have been the week to be posting The Way Things Are because I should have been blogging from Shelter Island NY – after an impulsive decision to go that also required a fast track passport renewal. Instead I am nearer home, thankful that the holiday house we were heading for was spared by Hurricane Irene even though still without power or running water. Sadly many of my favourite places in Vermont were not so fortunate – especially those beautiful covered bridges.

But times of sadness are also times to remember passion. It was Ben Zander’s presentation that led me to the book, Possibility and writing about it here in the first place. If you didn’t already watch his wonderful video about passion, the best thing you can do now is click on his name in the column to your right. Everything said here simply mirrors what he says there less effectively – you will have to scroll to the bottom to find it.

Natural beauty

The Zanders begin the chapter by noting that expressive energy is a gift that we can tap into. Roz relates some of the times when nature gave her that energy when she let herself be open to it. (Her experience was with crashing surf where mine is restoration from looking at still waters. Ben moves on to explain how he encourages the same capacity with his music students. It requires a certain ability to go with the flow. He plays with this idea in proposing “one buttock playing” in the aforementioned video – not sitting full centre of the piano but bending to the flow of the music itself and its long line. In another video on You Tube he takes the student orchestra through a rendition of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony at breakneck speed that reveals the strenth of Beethoven’s passionate anger One buttock playing is an idea that can be transferred to other enterprises when one accepts the power of the passion.

And he closes the chapter with another wonderful acronym. He coached a Spanish student who was competing for an orchestra chair and told the student to give the work his all. Technical competence gave way to impassioned playing. Ben’s last advice was to “Play it the second way”. Later he met the student and asked him how the audition had gone. “I didn’t get the job”, the student replied in his halting English, “because I played it the first way. But then I said, ‘Fock it, I’m going to Madrid and compete for the principal cellist there – and I got it by playing the second way”. So “Beyond the Fock it” was born as a working model. Even the headmistress of a Catholic Girl’s School noted that BtFI was now the unofficial school motto. Like Joan Chittister the prolific writer of the same Catholic faith, the motto as she puts it, is “We Fall and Get up again, we fall and get up again, we fall and . . . ”