I’m not buying into the idea that there is some sort of perfect way of living one’s life – some ways are better than others, and those various ways appeal to different people…and so on and so forth.  We’re not here talking about *your* choices and and preferences, but rather mine.

I’m getting old.  Not super old yet, like JZ  [:)], but old enough to start seeing a few patterns and beginning to see how choices fit together.  One motif that crops up frequently is the notion of standards (being cut from the Teacher cloth and what not).  Standards are fucking important in my line of work, I need to set them high and demonstrate them on a daily basis so students can see why they are important.

There is a life lesson right there – Show, Do, Demonstrate, as your ‘go to’ plan – talking about issues and concepts is important, but doing the thing is so much more important that pontificating about it.  Is critical thinking important in your classroom?  Then show how it is done every day with your students (and friends outside of school an academia) so often that the people around you have to learn, if by nothing else, osmosis. (The world is filled with dull people, help them, please.)

The osmosis strategy works for music as well, and the related life-concept of perfect practice makes perfect.  Can you make those four boring quarter notes into a phrase?  Demonstrate it, practice doing it, everyday.  Make it a thing that just becomes automatic.  The practice list is long, and ever increasing, of the musical qualities and practices that need to become second nature, and not requiring conscious thought (looking at you vocal resonance *grrr*) to enact.

I think the wisdom that can sometimes come with age kicks in when you realize the standards you hold dear informs your perceptions and how you take on life.  It is very easy to become your chosen ‘standards’ and stop thinking about how to interact with the turbulent flow of life around you.  Sticking to your version of what is correct is necessary to certain extent, as being the leaf in the wind isn’t exactly my idea of an ideal life state.  But life, as much as we try to manage it, will gleefully toss monkey poop filled situations at you that will force you to make decisions that call into question the frameworks you’ve built for dealing with the world.

The problem with monkey poop (and most poop really) is that its sticky and tends to foul up the most carefully constructed frameworks and ideas you have about the world.  Borrowing a phrase from Gordan Ramsey, you often find yourself to be ‘in the shit’ – so what do you do?  For a good portion of my existence, the answer has been to soldier on, head down, pushing back against the shit and working it and reworking it with the tools at hand until the situation has become tolerable (a nice loamy compost, after all is said and done).  Confidence in my structures has been unfailing.

But what if my structures and methods are wrong?  Yeah, its thoughts like these that gets the monkeys (of the anxiety and doubt kind) agitated and a-chattering.  When do you step back from the ramparts and reconsider the stand(s) you’ve taken and reexamine the thought process that brought you to your current state?

It is said that it takes courage to stand by your convictions – I’m calling bullshit on that – standing tall on the fortifications of your beliefs is easy-peasy, made in shade, level of challenge.  Taking a step back, reevaluating your convictions and realizing that they aren’t serving you as they once did, and then changing them – that friends, takes courage.  Because with change comes vulnerability and instability, the rebuilding your convictions – what makes you -“you”.

Relax, I haven’t found jebus, or allah or drank the libertarian kool-aid, I’m still the pinko-lefty rad fem ally you all know and love.  Rather, I’m just in a slightly different theoretical spot having taken a small reflective step back and have begun looking at my structures and ideology and how they shape my perception of life.

Good, if somewhat unsettling, times. :)

 

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