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February 13, 2009


I think your last line says it. Life is passion, I guess in both senses of the word. Anything I'm good at, I took so much of myself along that, to answer how long it took me, I'd state my age.

And the things I'm best at don't count. I think I've really learned how to take a walk.

I look at those 10,000 hours as lost, like the road not taken, a good kind of lost that helped form me. Maybe Mutter sees it that way.

I wonder if part of a performance's joy is our celebration of the performer's life and the possibility of seeing ourselves in her.

(Also, thank you so much for your dear response and link to my latest long post. If I have spent too many hours blogging, I would justify it by the likes of you, Beth.)

Lucky you, Beth. I can't remember when we last attended a top line concert. Silly, with London only 30 minutes away by train. The Mutter sounds fabulous.

'...the most effort, the greatest number of hours?' I guess there are three endeavours into which I have invested most passion and effort - playing music, directing plays and writing poetry. None of these have involved 'practice' in the sense of long hours of preparatory exercise. All of them have been learned and developed in process - resulting, no doubt, initially at least, in the application of the old saw, "I've suffered for my art; now it's your turn"!
I've been playing the bass guitar since 1967, directing plays since 1975 and writing poetry (to any level of proficiency) since 1986. I'm not going to try to calculate at what point in each case 10,000 hours was approached or passed. But what is evident to me is that the pressure of performance deadlines and then the tensions of presentation to an audience require an intensity of application and a level of concentration that, with perseverance and constant practice, must develop a level of skill and aptitude over time.

But in the final analysis, if practice is not informed by passion first and foremost then those 10,000 hours might have been better spent fast asleep.

There has to be more than time. I too have cooked for many years but am an okay cook at best. No passion, I guess.

"...but not nearly at the level of accomplishment or ease as people who've concentrated one discipline only and made it their life's focus."

Yep, that's it. The concentration, the single focus (some might call it blinkered). Not that this in itself makes one a genius, as you point out, but if the seeds of greatness are there to begin with, they germinate more easily when nurtured by single-mindedness and a certain immunity to distraction. I don't know if the 10,000 hours rule is true or not and I'd be reluctant to work out how many hours I've wasted (maybe not entirely wasted) in *not* being single-minded enough. H'm...this might in fact be an interesting exercise. I know pretty much what I've 'wasted' them on but that's a long story. Best illustrated.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.