Monday, January 12, 2015


I have been having a love affair. Sshhhh!

His name is Johann. He's German. He's a composer. When I listen to his music, I can't creatively write at all, but I can edit complex text like a boss. If I want to write creatively to music, I have to listen to someone more romantic and emotive--like Frederic or Claude--but Johann and I, we are partners in bringing my logical left brain to the fore. Maybe it's the harpsichord.

I knew about this guy for a long time, but you know how sometimes you have to revisit something to really and truly learn to cherish it? I caught up with him through some music books written for low voices (that's me!), and I've been his devotee ever since. Johann doesn't know I'm alive (he's kind of dead to the world), but I sometimes pull out his fugues and pound them out on the organ setting of my electric piano just to show my devotion. Other times, I sing his sacred music to myself when the kids are at school. Just now, I've been listening to some of his concertos and thinking fondly of him.

Okay, I must admit I'm also seeing Frederic and Claude on the side. Also a guy named Leroy Anderson. There are others, too, some more jazzy, some with a more classical mein, some who are more free-spirited and winsome, some who are part of that exciting group you would label as Latin lovers--they're just so flirtatious and saucy, how can I resist? Whatever. Call me names if you want, but I regret nothing.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Resistance to the Invitation of The Cult of Personality

One of my daughters told me about an experience she had a while ago. She was at a get-together with some of her friends, and they were all sitting around watching YouTube videos and laughing. The conversation came around to a discussion of The Hunger Games, where Gale and Peeta were compared for their relative merits as Katniss's romantic interest.

During the conversation, which heavily favored Gale, one of the girls got upset. When my daughter and the others asked what was wrong, this girl confessed that she felt like the rest were attacking her because they knew she liked Peeta. Confused, my daughter asked her how they were attacking her, as they had only been discussing the characters of the book and hadn't said anything personal about the people in the group. The girl said that because she favored Peeta and the others didn't, she felt like it was a personal attack on her.

The party broke up soon thereafter. I mean, how can you argue with a logical temper tantrum like that?

I've always been fascinated with why people identify so much with an idea or person or group of people that they can confuse their own identity with that of the adored one. I'm sure you've seen it: people who are such fans of a celebrity or group that they brook no criticism of him/her/it whatsoever and are likely to launch into a personal attack on you should you dare to criticize that person or group. I believe these symptoms can generally classify a sufferer as being a member of The Cult of Personality (whichever personality it happens to be).

It's tempting to join the cult sometimes, though. You get so fired up about something you believe in, and then when you find someone with authority or someone who is more culturally visible than you are who exemplifies what it is you value, you might want to allow yourself to identify so closely with them that you take criticism of them as criticism of yourself. You see it all the time in politics and religion, for instance. And it's become an epidemic in social media. Just try publicly stating an opinion on just about anything at all and see who gets seriously offended with you and feels him/herself to have been personally attacked by you for having stated your obtuse and obviously wrong opinion.

I've been close to being in the cult myself a time or two, but upon reflection, I realized that the temptation stems from fear. You choose something in which or in whom you believe, and the fact that someone might try to poke holes in your choice would possibly uncover your (perceived) lack of intelligence or your inability to make good choices. We want to hold onto our good feelings about our opinions, even to the point of lashing out if someone disagrees with us. It's one thing to honestly discuss a difference of opinions; it's entirely another if someone else's different opinion threatens your very identity. If your identity and sense of self are threatened, then you have allowed the fear of being wrong (and, therefore, somehow proving that you are a bad or stupid person) to overwhelm your ability to exist as an individual with thoughts and opinions that may or may not need upgrading as you gain new information.

The girl in my story is very young and is therefore entitled to be silly. We were all silly at that age, to one degree or another. We still are mostly silly as adults. But one of the best things I think any person determined to grow can do is to learn not to be afraid to gain new information, process its value, and then make decisions to change or not change her opinions based on that information. You will feel a lot more free when you can divorce your personal worth from how others view the ideas and people you admire.

Just musing. Really. It's nice to have a thought in my head once in a while. I probably just wanted to prove that it happens occasionally.