The title sounds like I’m being nice, but I do wonder if it is more of a curse – along the lines of “may you live in interesting times”.
Our consumer-driven society is always telling us that we should want more things; bigger things; better things. It also likes to suggest that we shouldn’t have to wait – easy (or really quite hard) credit is always available. Long ago, in a Puffin book of jokes (the exact title eludes me) I remember a cartoon strip of boy who wanted a big cat (lion or tiger – his want was specific, my recollection isn’t). After much badgering of his parents (though no sign of TB), they relented and the cat was duly granted – at which point it ate the foolish child. Not obviously a joke in my retelling: more a morality tale to beware getting that for which you have wished. Whilst receiving the things we want doesn’t usually results in our own consumption, it does often lead to disappointment and some small erosion of the soul (or its secular, humanist equivalent).
I also recall an aphorism that said that “experience is what you get if you don’t get what you want”. This does seem to suggest that if experience is your goal, you will never leave empty-handed – though this may not be the intended message. However, I have found that many of the best things in life come not through instant (or near-instant) gratification of a consumer-focused want – though that can happen with a nice glass of something or a slice of decent cake – but from a more unexpected event or a long-striven for outcome. I would not wish to suggest that something unearned is unappreciated (I do try and avoid anyone leaving this blog with a moral education), but sometimes waiting does add savour to things. Even planned things can also be unexpected and so particularly pleasing – a night of fringe theatre often does it for me.
Last night, following a rather busy period at work and in some of the more work-like aspects of my home life, I went out for the evening – to an event booked several weeks ago. The evening proved to be exactly what I needed, though if I was satisfying a want, it was not one I knew I had.
The event was a concert of piano music played by Piotr Anderszewski, though not the one I’d expected due to a late programme change. For once, it was briefly dry enough for me to cycle up to Turner Sims which is always a good start to a night out (though, the Uni-Link bus service is also excellent for times of more Biblical weather). I arrived a little early and so there was time for a beer (I feel it is important to support arts venues any way you can, so very much a selfless pint) – better than just beer, they could offer me a bottle of Old Peculiar (which you don’t often see this far south, or at all). With this inside me, the first half of Bach and Schumann saw all my stress just drift away on a wave of divine music. After a tub of rum-and-raisin ice cream, the second half was some glorious Beethoven. I thought it was a really good concert, but I make no great claims for my musicality even without a pint of OP inside. However, it would seem it was objectively a good concert as today’s Guardian gave it a five star review.
I wish I could claim credit for having selected such a great concert, but my picking involved the fact that it was near home and involved a piano. The best I can say is that I allowed the possibility to exist and was then lucky. I was fortunate to obtain something I needed (but had not sought), though I’ll admit as needs go it was quite near the top of Maslow’s famous pyramid.
So, perhaps I should hope that you all get what you need – also perhaps a two-edged hope, but one with less malice is involved. I should also work on wanting less and leaving more space for life to deliver me some “experience”. I also really need to put in some practise at the ole 88-string guitar: one day I’d like to make it to exercise 3 in Mr Hanon’s book of 60 exercises for the virtuoso pianist. Nonetheless, even if I live to be 1000 I don’t reckon Piotr has anything to worry about, competition-wise. Still, I am enjoying the journey: slow though it may be!