meditation on the word “humility”

Here’s a dirty secret: I’ve got a dominant personality. And, I’m a violist.

The trouble is — it’s not really secret. Everyone knows that I’m a violist, and most of you know about my personality. In music, I like to lead, provoke a reaction, and cause trouble. In life — in the company of family, friends, and colleagues — I like to watch quietly, wait, and weigh in only when it’s almost too late. I don’t like to play melodies — I like to be an accompanist, a sort of viola-playing wise-monkey, if you will.

Such are the natural constraints of my personality. But is it worth changing, changing my natural way, or masking it heavily?

It would seem yes — my personality is unfit for playing chamber music (too democratic), for studying (I learn best by abstract osmosis), or for much less other than being the center of attention. Modesty is not a feeling I can relate to — it’s just a synonym for “back door”.

Throughout my formative years, I have not joined any camp or counterculture — I never bonded with any side of academic or musical orthodoxy, and I have never joined the cutting edge. It’s as if I walk a few paces behind time, shaping the dust into sand castles. This has been beneficial — I get called for a wide variety of gigs…

The trouble with growing up as an artist is that you can’t allow yourself to lose your childish innocence, in spite of mounting responsibilities and various other cogs maturity may throw in your direction. You can’t rely on anyone’s opinion (maybe even excluding the ones you love), and you certainly shouldn’t do anything except leading — using whatever means available.

It seems that an artist — or, my artist — is potentially a person in search of a bully pulpit, a soapbox from which to shout…

(none of this, naturally, should ever prevent me from reading books and being awed, standing in the back of the audience with a dropped jaw, or being otherwise speechless in front of X&Y)

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