A restful day and reunion with some Thai friends before heading off to India tonight. Posted something on Facebook about the recent school shootings and thought about including it here, but though indeed we have to look this straight in the face and stop dancing around our refusals to do the right thing, sometimes we need some words of encouragement. Note the word “courage” embedded in that word, hearing the words that will buoy up our bravery and allow us to confront that necessary soul-searching.
Surfing through my folder titled “Other’s Writing,” I stumbled on these lovely three paragraphs. Truth be told, I don’t know who Karl Paulnack is, but apparently a musician who was giving this talk to a graduating class at a Conservatory. Here he speaks my mind and my life’s dedication and since he does it so eloquently, the most gracious thing to do is step aside and like him speak. I would only add (or Orff workshop!) after “concert hall” in the first paragraph. Thank you Karl.
“If we were a medical school, and you were here as a med student practicing appendectomies, you’d take your work very seriously because you would imagine that some night at two AM someone is going to waltz into your emergency room and you’re going to have to save their life. Well, my friends, someday at 8 PM someone is going to walk into your concert hall and bring you a mind that is confused, a heart that is overwhelmed, a soul that is weary. Whether they go out whole again will depend partly on how well you do your craft.
You’re not here to become an entertainer, and you don’t have to sell yourself. The truth is you don’t have anything to sell; being a musician isn’t about dispensing a product, like selling used Chevies. I’m not an entertainer; I’m a lot closer to a paramedic, a firefighter, a rescue worker. You’re here to become a sort of therapist for the human soul, a spiritual version of a chiropractor, physical therapist, someone who works with our insides to see if they get things to line up, to see if we can come into harmony with ourselves and be healthy and happy and well.
Frankly, ladies and gentlemen, I expect you not only to master music; I expect you to save the planet. If there is a future wave of wellness on this planet, of harmony, of peace, of an end to war, of mutual understanding, of equality, of fairness, I don’t expect it will come from a government, a military force or a corporation. I no longer even expect it to come from the religions of the world, which together seem to have brought us as much war as they have peace. If there is a future of peace for humankind, if there is to be an understanding of how these invisible, internal things should fit together, I expect it will come from the artists, because that’s what we do.”