Monday, December 20, 2010

Keep Playing Your Music...Whatever It Is...

Writing a blog can sometimes be like the job description for the Dunkin Donuts dude ("Time to make the doughnuts!") After plugging along with mine for close to three years now, I have a newfound appreciation for writers of all stripes, cartoonists, comedians writing daily copy, journalists--anyone who produces the written or spoken word under the rigors of a regular deadline.

With my "5 Horsepower" (made in the U.S.A., I'll have you know) blog in a small corner of the Internet, sometimes there's not much to write about from a legal standpoint. Some of it can be rather boring at times. And, sometimes, you just don't feel much like writing at all. You hit a wall, a lull, and sometimes you wonder as you write: does anybody really care about what you're pontificating about anyway? Does it really contribute in any meaningful way to The Internet world of knowledge, or is it merely a click or a glance in passing by surfers constantly moving and trolling for whatever they're looking for? An online "drive by" akin to a glance in a bar or an airport.

Hell, nobody pays me to write it. I do it because I have this wierd idea that there are still folks in need of legal services who may appreciate information that may answer their questions or guide them in the right direction or arm them with questions to ask any attorney before hiring them, in a sea of mass advertisers proclaiming to "care about you" in cheesy radio and TV spots while you're simply trying to watch a ball game.

It's times like this that you sometimes need a little push in the right direction, or be handed a nugget of inspiration in some strange, random place. Today, while searching aimlessly for "interesting legal news," (think "jumbo shrimp," "hot water heater," or other appropriate oxymorons) I found an interesting article about Beethoven by Robert Kahn, entitled "The Man." Strangely enough, I found the article on a legal news website of all places. As I read it, this passage at the end really grabbed me:

Bringing people comfort is hardly what artists choose to do anymore. It's not what Beethoven chose to do. But he did it nonetheless. He's been doing it for nearly 200 years after he was dead, and he'll be doing it so long as there is a human race that remembers how to play Beethoven.

Arthur Rubinstein explained it in a master class I attended 35 years ago. Most artists who give master classes give instruction: they interrupt; they get right in there. But Mr. Rubinstein, 90 years old, just sat and beamed as a procession of young pianists knocked the stuffing out of the piano for an hour. Then Mr. Rubinstein, beaming like a cherub, stood and walked slowly stiffly to the podium and said these few words to the packed auditorium: "You must keep playing music. When people get old, sometimes they get sad, and music is the only thing that can console them. So you must keep playing music."

The wisdom of that simple statement was not lost on me. I thought of so many of my elderly clients, who've been injured in some form, and now face the argument from an insurance company that their injuries are to be cheapened or lessened because they're "up there in years." They may have lost a spring or two in their step, but they continue to play their music as best they can, which may make it sound even sweeter to them and their audience because of the ticking clock of time and age.

But this lesson applies to all of us, really. No matter what you do, whether you're a teacher or a chef or grinding it out in a small business in a lousy economy, if things seem a bit overwhelming, Mr. Rubinstein's advice is golden: just keep playing your music. Whatever it is.

And that goes for you too, Neil (Young, that is--one of my personal music heroes). He just cranked out another album at age 65. So no matter what music you play, "Keep On Rockin In The Free World." And don't be afraid to hit a few wrong notes along the way...

Happy Holidays!

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