Alex and the young Asian pianist

11.Bolshoi_Theatre_1I went to a piano recital last night, hoping to see Alex. Alex is a 70 some years old man, whom I met in the last recital. I’m usually not a big fan of the classics, but Alex played with such joy that I couldn’t help being affected by his mood. He played Beethoven’s Pathetique 1st Movement. I didn’t know I was fond of Beethoven before that night!

Interestingly, another performer that night, a young Asian woman, also performed that exact piece. So I had the rare opportunity of comparing different playing styles on the same piece of music. You’d think they ought to be quite similar if not identical, as it is classical music. But they were blatantly different. The young Asian woman was a better pianist. Her strokes were clean and her techniques were impeccable. But I didn’t feel it. I didn’t feel the joy and the passion in her play. I only heard perfection.

It reminded me of my visit to Bolshoi Theater Moscow to see Swan Lake. The dance was flawless, the lead male dancer’s technique was beyond reproach, and all in all it was an excellent show. But, yes I know, there is always a “But”. After each piece of music, the dancers would stop to bow and curtsy to the audience and to receive applause. Don’t get me wrong. I’m more than willing to give applauses. It’s just these pauses broke up the story flow, and you couldn’t get as emotionally involved with the show as you would otherwise do.

I chatted with Alex after the performance, and I asked him when he started to play piano. He smiled and said that he started when he was already in his adulthood in his 20s. I could see that he really enjoys playing and I could picture him playing hours and hours for fun at home. Then I realized, I don’t envy perfection. I envy passion. I want to be just like Alex.


a way out

IMG_2017 - CopyI spent seven plus hours driving yesterday, but I was able to visit Getty Museum, see a good friend and get business done, so it was a long but productive day.

I had books from to listen to in the car. I have to say that audible does a great job in enticing me to buy more than what I subscribed monthly. For example, I had a dozen books already waiting to be read/heard on my iPhone, nevertheless I bought seven more books on Valentine’s day from them because they were having a big sale. With all these books, I was able to switch from book to book during my drive, and that had kept me alert.

One of the books was “How the Mind Works” by Steven Pinker. It says, and I’m paraphrasing here, that when we finish a book, we don’t remember the sentences or the fonts or the words, we only remember the concept or the story of the book. If that were the case, why do I bother with this blog? I can just go ahead and write my book without using the blog to practice my writing. Ha! Only ten days into this blog, I’ve already discovered the perfect way out. Am I a genius or what?

Ignorance is really a blessing sometimes. If I haven’t read so much, I would probably be writing my book and it might be interesting and popular anyway because of the story. But I know I’m not there yet. I want to deliver the story properly. When I read nowadays, I pay attention not only to the storyline and logic, but also to the way the story was told and the words and sentences used to bring readers into the story. By doing so, I garner more pleasure from reading. Similarly, because I have been spending time painting, drawing and photographing in the last two years, along with some classroom learning, I found I could enjoy the paintings and photography in Getty Museum so much more than before.

The most important thing is not the goal, it’s the process. And it is the journey that we rejoice.