Day 29: Thursday
Good morning Zak,
When I was in high school, I had a philosophy teacher who asked the class one time to close our eyes and imagine somewhere we would like to be if we could be anywhere in the world. When we opened our eyes he asked if the place anyone had imagined was room 312 YC high school. I was the only one who raised their hand. Maybe I was over thinking things, but if I really wanted to be somewhere else, wouldn’t I just get up and leave?
Zak, I know Thursday is a work day for you. Maybe this letter comes to you over your lunch break. In fact, I’m willing to bet a strong majority of our readers join us here on Thily Fin from cramped little office spaces. Zak, I know you love your job, but many people don’t. My question to those who don’t like being at work is this: why don’t you just leave?
Another one of those moments when I picture my future employer coming across this blog of ours…
I enjoy going to classes at the music conservatory here in Milan Italy. Most of my composition classes here begin with the Maestro asking me a question: hai lavorato, “have you worked?” This is a very routine way that we begin. I answer him with a si and then hand him whatever I’ve written that week. But our conservatory is the kind of place where other answers would probably be equally acceptable. I get the feeling that I could come in one day: “have you worked?” “No, I didn’t work this week. I just sat in the park and listened to the sounds of the people walking by.”
Leaving your work would be an administrative decision that you make about the infrastructure of your life. We don’t make those kind of decisions on a daily basis. Most of life is about finding beauty in the mundanity of a fairly regular routine. Of course, the option to change that routine is always available.
My Maestro tells me he once had a student who would visit other eras. She’d come in: “have you worked?” “No, I couldn’t work this week, I was in the Middle Ages.” The student was supposed to write three minuets, but week by week she would show up with nothing. Finally my Maestro told her, “spend this week in the eighteenth century, and you’ll write me three perfect minuets.” And according to the Maestro that’s exactly what happened.
Some decisions are made for us. The other night I decided to go to a performance of the Mozart Coronation Mass at the little parish down the street. This was another one of those times when bad music was better than good music. I’ve never heard the Coronation Mass quite like that before, but I doubt if I’ve ever felt quite that much spirit in a room either. Everyone was beaming afterword, including this one lady:
“do you go to our church?”
“do you like to sing?”
“will you sing in our choir?”
“you don’t have time? Oh you must come sing with us. Here I’ll show you where we have rehearsals.” She brought me around the back of the Church, and told me to come there the next day at 9 in the evening.
She was just beaming. If that old lady were a piece of music, she’d be written in F sharp major—a sharp for each ridiculous impulse that pops into her head. “And now this is where you find out I really have a screw loose. Every time I pass this statue of our Lord and savior I give him a nice little greeting. ‘Good evening Lord.’” She shook hands with the statue. “It’s just that he has his hands spread out like that, and I don’t know…
“This way you make some connections. Life in the city is, can be very cold sometimes, and…” She looked at my jacket zipper. “You’re freezing! Button up. Life in the city is very cold, all the people walk around with their noses in the air. This way you can make some nice friends.”