2009-2010 Live Deliberately Essay Contest
Living deliberately means rejecting what is meaningless in order to recognize and appreciate real truth and beauty; this struggle can be very difficult to achieve considering that truth is relative, meaning is personal, and standards of beauty are constantly changing. For Thoreau, learning the “essential facts of life” became possible by admiring nature while living a solitary life in the woods. This is unfortunately impossible to do for people who want to live deliberately IN society and as a part of it, especially when most people get little daily exposure to nature.
In modern times, we are constantly bombarded with messages promoting materialism, greed, and empty beauty; living deliberately demands sifting through floods of images in order to identify and pursue gratifying intellectual and spiritual activities. Living deliberately, thus, requires people to decide for themselves what has deep meaning so that they can engage in activities that provide lasting satisfaction, understanding, and contentment.
I try to avoid too much exposure to shallow values by not having a T.V., buying magazines, or listening to popular radio. Instead, I try to achieve personal satisfaction through solitary pursuits, especially practicing the violin. Practicing for hours is my version of meditation. The only way to adequately focus on, critique, and correct every sound that I make is to clear my head of mundane and trivial concerns that are really only distractions. As I achieve greater mastery of the violin I feel closer to freedom as an artist, which makes me feel motivated and inspired about everything that I do. Accomplishing a goal further illuminates possibilities and I want to reach my full potential by learning as much as I can.
Like nature, art touches and affects everyone and it feels to me universally meaningful and true. Pitch and Rhythm are natural entities that have been a part of all cultures throughout history, so in a way music reminds us of our relationship to nature and to each other. At the end of each day (and at the end of my life) I want to reflect on what matters most and see that my time was truly spent pursuing, developing, and learning about things that make me feel passionate and give me satisfying intellectual stimulation. I don’t want to find I wasted my time with brain-dead activities (surfing the internet, putting on makeup, buying designer clothes, etc.).
As I get older (though I am still young) I spend less time worrying about whether I look like a Hollywood starlet and simultaneously become more confident about myself; I realize I must pursue music in terms of MY OWN feelings of expression that will give me spiritual relief. I realize that fame and money are not truly consoling to a lonely heart or an unfulfilled mind; they only give fleeting relief like a drug. For me, living deliberately means living according to a thoughtfully conceived personal set of ethics and goals that lead to feelings of achievement and happiness.