Praise Your Mentors When Due
What Inspires Others to Praise Your Mentors?
I am fond of quoting the Chinese mystic Lao Tsu who said, "more words count less." In the online world having a mentor or guru is highly praised as "valuable," perhaps "essential," and it seems to me with my pioneer heritage that I had no such luck, no such mentor; it seemed on reflection there was a big hole in my armour, until I thought about old Bill.
Bill Adkins was an 87 year old Stage Manager still working in the Ottawa Little Theatre when I was age 23 and I was his assistant in live theatre productions. He used to say to me, "Lawrey, I know you know better, why don’t you do better." He said it kindly with a smile and he didn’t say it too often.
It took years for me to realize those few words were key to hundreds of volumes of books, those that have been written on the topic, and those thousands that could be written and focus on issues where we all know better but don’t do better!
The Carnegie Influence For Friends
One of my favourite books I am recently re-reading is Dale Carnegie’s, "How to Win Friends And Influence People" and as I read I am asking what "do better" ideas did I miss on earlier readings. Each time I read it one part or another stands out for application in my current transitions.
This time I am most struck by a quote included in the introduction to the ‘how’ and ‘why’ Dale Carnegie wrote this book. He quotes Herbert Spencer saying, "The great aim of education is not knowledge, but action." How similar to Old Bill, "it is not enough to know better, we must do better!"
One very key feeling that has guided my years is that we rarely take our good time to really appreciate what is possible to share with music. Both as listener or learner in the fun sense of music practice, it is just too easy to dwell in the practical side of our routine, and leave music inspiration for later.
It is too easy to do our job, to take care of our chores, take care of business, and end up with too little time to settle with the music we love to hear, to play, or share while practicing, learning, and performing. It is easy also to forget, even when due, to take the time to praise your mentors.
I often repeat that, "when we are learning music, practicing music, in fact we are re-learning the very essence of how to learn." That is a process that continues until we can breathe no more and underlines another favourite quote by the American poet, Carl Sandburg, "Man is always arriving, he has never arrived!"
More mystic still the words of Edgar Allen Poe, "It is at once by poetry and through poetry, by music and through music, that the soul divines what splendors shine behind the tomb…"
No Charge For Music
©Lawrey Jack Smashnuk 2012
Ten thousand strings
my soul is crying out to hear,
playing loud and long,
the voice of cheer.
Slapped in chains
the fact remains,
They’ve taken leave of playing,
except commercial trains.
The poor for want of nurturing
with less, yet least they cry,
deep in want of comfort’s commerce,
such symphonies, like a train roll by!
Their ears seldom hold song softly,
their heart full wise of wrong,
near drowns in pain, lonely pain,
for most needed strings they long.
Who would think of music such a prison?
yet lest monies force field be stayed,
such grand fruit for life in cold derision remains,
and can only be freed, where no charge is made.
This short poem marks a major shift in my thought and a turning point in my life. It was first written around (1998) the time my Father passed away (& revised 2012). Perhaps that was incidental though as Poe ventures, "what splendours shine behind the tomb…" also shine upon the natural seasons and the seasoning of our lives.
The reason I share these thoughts in a blog post is in reflections or dreams we see visions that could be many possibilities. One such dream surmise I have spent time considering I reserved a domain name for, a possible contest format comes to mind, votefreemusic.com remains only a thought and one I will develop more in days to come.
For now I am content to reflect on those mentors who have influenced my dream of a better way to explore my relations with music. My thanks to Old Bill and his inspiration to share wherever he learned those words …"I know you know better, why don’t you do better." I hope those words might inspire others (when due) to praise your mentors!