Today I’m thankful that I can take as many random academic courses as I wish.
I’ve been reading a book with what is probably one of my favorite titles (be warned, it is slightly rude). The basic premise is that you won’t be good, or even mediocre, at everything you try, and that’s all right. The point is to discover what you care enough about to become responsible for. Each person has a limited amount of energy (or time, or concern, or anything) to give (referencing the book’s title) and sharing that resource according to your virtues is the way to live an examined life. The short version is you need to pick your battles. I admit that the concept is facile, but I appreciate that it’s grounded in practice rather than theory. I will always prefer spending a day with an engineer to an artist.
In my life there are number of things I say I care about, but I’m not experienced enough at most of them to gauge the accuracy of my claims. It’s more that I feel I should care about them, regardless of whether I actually do. I’ve decided to put the book’s thesis into practice, because I only have so many fracks to give. One of the perquisites of my work is reduced tuition and fees at a local university. I’ve enquired about taking courses in several subjects. The worst case is that I don’t enjoy the topic while still gaining knowledge. I realise I should have figured out these issues long ago, but I’m thankful to have even a delayed opportunity.
Unrelated, but I sing and Aretha Franklin was the singer, and I’m very sad that she is gone.
This video is not mine. I claim no rights. All rights belong to the copyright holders.
Today I’m grateful for voice/singing lessons.
I had a voice teacher for several months about five years ago. The lessons ended because she moved about 10 hours away. I’m a singer. I always have been. I’m not a great technical musician – my sight reading skills are negligible and I know very little theory. I’m a tolerable instinctual musician, if such a thing exists. I’ve developed an excellent ear out of necessity so that I don’t fall behind, and I can harmonize almost instantly. I’ve been a harmony part since my voice changed and I have more fun moving around the melody than I ever did singing a piece straight.
I restarted voice lessons two months ago. It took a couple of sessions to get our footing. I wasn’t sure specifically what I wanted and the teacher needed to suss out my abilities. Parts of my range are rusty. That’s slightly frustrating, but I’m elated to be learning something again. I truly enjoy singing in the church choir, but I needed to sing for myself as well. Now I am.
Today I’m thankful for Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.
In the small chance you’d missed the news, there was a royal wedding on Saturday. A lot of positive press is being given to Bishop Michael Curry. He is the primate of the Episcopal Church of the United States, the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion.
I’ve mentioned before that my relationship with religion is complex and I lean agnostic. I sing in the choir of a local Anglican church because 1) they have the best music in town, and 2) I need to sing like I need to breathe. Both are necessary. I’m also attached to the Anglican forms even if I doubt the substance.
I truly respect, and honestly like, Bishop Curry. His ecclesial history is a little like my own. We both come from rather rambunctious evangelical traditions and have adopted the (in my HUMBLE opinion, blatant sarcasm) more graceful forms of Anglicanism. He is learned, and gentle, and one hell of a preacher. I’m not nostalgic for the tradition I was formed in, but every now and then you just need a tent revival. He knows that, and brought it all the way to Westminster Abbey. That is worth celebrating.
This video does not belong to me. All rights belong to the rights holder(s).
Source: BBC News
Today I’m thankful for occasional chances to live slowly.
Today is Ash Wednesday. I’m ambivalent toward formal religion and lean agnostic. Even so, I sing in the choir of a local Anglican church. Singing is like breathing to me. I need both to live. I attend most Sundays because we sing at set points through the entire service. I don’t believe in the metaphysical aspects but I still find beauty in the rituals, and consider “seeking justice and loving mercy” a worthy idea.
I honestly love the liturgical calendar. I’m struck by the idea that every day is a feast honoring someone. Every day becomes a celebration. Dividing the year into various “-tides” that reflect the cycle of seasons feels far less artificial to me than worrying about quarterly goals. I don’t suffer from misguided nostalgia in thinking the past was “purer” because survival required so much more effort. I do wonder whether we’ve compartmentalized and subdivided our lives so much as to be pointless.
I don’t sacrifice anything for Lent. That would mean abiding by proscriptions I just don’t believe. I do try to use the season to live an examined life. I don’t have any grand final insights. I write what I see. I probably won’t be an objectively better person by Easter but I will be reminded that what I do has consequences for good or ill. I don’t think knowing that is ever a bad thing.
Today I’m thankful for “Shine.”
I don’t remember how old I was the first time I heard the song. I’ve loved it since. It’s one of the few songs I recognize immediately, by the bass riff. The lyrics are challenging but hopeful. It’s in my vocal sweet spot so I belt along whenever I hear it. It’s one of my top three favorite songs. One of the others is “Cliffs Of Dover”, which I’ve posted about previously. The third is embarrassing and I don’t feel like admitting it just now.
Today I’m thankful for Iron Maiden.
I appreciate bands that have fun, not taking themselves too seriously and making music for the joy of it. It’s a bonus if they also happen to be good. There are three specific things I most like about Iron Maiden:
Chances are if I’m in a Maiden mood I prefer the music to be aggressive. Their guitar/drum combo never stops moving forward.
Bruce is an old school shouter. I’d rank him with any of the original generation wailers.
Eddie is the perfect mix of macabre and humor. He’s instantly recognisable, endlessly modifiable and bloody good fun.
Neither the song nor the video are mine.
Today I’m thankful for Sarah Vaughan.
I don’t remember how I first heard Sarah Vaughan sing. I was transfixed. Her voice is like silk. On occasion she would forget the lyrics, or be in disagreement with her band, and she never let it get to her. Recordings that include such incidents showcase her fairly wry sense of humor.
She started with Chick Webb’s band. Her broad range and warm voice are what made her stand out from her peers. She performed almost continually for almost 40 years.
I have no rights to the song or video.
Embed from Getty Images
Today I’m thankful for rugby.
I played rugby union at university. I can be described as “stubby” so the pack was really the only place for me. I can take a hit but I will never be a sprinter. Previously I’d swum for a number of years. Looking at the bottom of a pool grew tedious. I try to stay active and rugby sounded like fun. It was very different than any other sport I’d tried. I had a ball (pun intended) and met many lovely people. I have great stories and learned a few very, very rude songs. My dodgy shoulder is dodgy because of an actual old rugby injury.
Today I’m thankful for Emeli Sandé.
I’ve loved everything this woman has released. I first heard her during the Opening Ceremonies of the London Olympics. She sang “Abide With Me.” I wasn’t a fan of that particular performance but I was intrigued enough to seek out the rest of her music. Boy am I glad I did. All rights are attributed to the artist.
Today I’m thankful for choir.
I’ve been singing since I was five. I have a good, strong voice and can sing a lot of different styles. I learn quickly by ear and can harmonize pretty much instantly. To go with that, I can’t read music at all. Like, if my life depended on sight reading something I would die. I keep up because I’ve got a good ear.
Singing crazy hard music with a bunch of people who can really, really sing is an accomplishment. We have to listen, and function as multiple sections of one organism. It all has to coordinate. If my section screws up our arpeggios we leave another section out to dry. Actually, it requires a measure of trust, that the other people have learned their stuff and won’t make the rest sound crappy. When everything works we produce a massive sound that audiences enjoy and make the effort to come and hear. It’s pretty cool.