Our perception and interpretation of the conditions and events in our lives are what drive our reality—even more so than the conditions and the events themselves. That’s why certain people living in what most would call trying conditions appear to thrive, while others who “have everything” are depressed and anxious. There are also people that will fight reality every step of the way. They can’t accept certain events or conditions, so they don’t. Most people live on the very surface of reality, while others are able to delve into their reality and truly understand their place in the universe. If you can do this, you can start to influence and even create your own reality based on your life force and your influence.
When you’re playing a fretless instrument, such as a fretless bass guitar or a violin, it’s easy to be slightly sharp or flat as the note depends on the exact placement of your fingers. While musicians are careful to play with as much precision as they can, it can be fun to play off the note a bit, whether it be in a vibrato (the rapid pulsing or wavering of a tone), in a glissando (a slide upward and downward between notes), or through an intentional (or unintentional) departure from playing exactly on the note. With a fretted instrument, the fret bars keep your playing to those specific notes for that fret. They are certainly easier to play and provide more precision, but they limit the player to only those specific notes.
I recently bought a fretless bass and am having a great time playing with these dynamics. The ability to play expressively when I’m not limited by frets has given me a newfound sense of freedom and has allowed me to play in a way I’ve never played before. It has also made me think about the continuous range of tones being symbolic of how people live their lives.
Think back on those magical times in your life—when you were just oozing with joy and excitement. What was it about those moments that made everything feel magical? It seems sometimes that we live our lives for those moments, and, having experienced them, the rest of our lives seems very ordinary by comparison. We may try to recreate those times, but we’ll find that what we create is not the same because a lot of what made them special was who we were at the time. Does this mean that, as we move through our lives, there will be less and less magic? The answer is no, but we have to be more intentional about finding and seeing it. When we’re younger, many of our experiences are new, and we’re engaging in things for the first time, so our magical moments happen naturally. With each experience we have, the likelihood of new experiences goes down, but the good news is that it only goes down by a very small amount, as long as we continue to pursue and are open to the magic that is happening all the time.
I have given a lot of thought to the concept of evil over the years. A big part of me points to the overwhelming evidence of actions and events that could not be called anything else. But my rational side makes the argument that there is a cause for any action, even the most horrific ones. There are certainly evil actions with appalling consequences, but do they come from a place of evil itself, or is there always an explanation (e.g., mental illness)? In the realm of knowing right from wrong and choosing wrong, there are huge swaths of gray, and most people engage in some forms of antisocial behavior, however minor and insignificant—any time spent on highways will prove that point. But what about behavior more significant in terms of its severity and consequences? Why does that happen, and where does it come from?
We all have people in our lives who seemingly know how to push our buttons—they are somehow able to get under our skin and threaten our peace and happiness. There may also be circumstances that invariably make us tense or irritable. Rather than denying that this is happening or resigning ourselves to these unpleasant feelings, we can use a variety of tools and perspectives to help us identify these conditions and address them. We can also make ourselves less susceptible to being impacted by these conditions. We can build a foundation of serenity through practices that stabilize our emotional reactions and make us aware of how we interact with the world. We can also be proactive about the elements in our lives to which we consistently have negative reactions. Finally, we can look inside ourselves and try to truly understand why we react the way we do and use that knowledge to mitigate our negative emotions.