Tag Archives: humanity

Yo-Yo Ma’s outstanding lecture – must see

Really worth watching. Key points on where creativity is critical in the 21st century. The guy doing announcements at the beginning is a bit long-winded so skip ahead until Yo-Yo Ma gets introduced. Don’t miss this.

Drawing on his training as a musician and what he has learned traveling the world for more than 30 years as a touring performer, Yo-Yo Ma will discuss where in nature, society, and human interactions we can find the greatest creativity, and what we can all do to help students grow up to be contributing and committed citizens.

Taoyuan Airport Impromptu Baroque Tai Chi Ballet

It is around 7 AM and daylight is just breaking out over the Taoyuan airport in Taiwan on Chinese New Year’s Eve after a long flight from SFO, and I’m sitting waiting for a connecting flight to Kaohsiung and I’ve been studying advanced SQL techniques. I turn on my iPod and put on some noise-canceling headphones to cut out some of the din in the room, with announcements coming in over the speaker and a rather loud dehumidifier placed behind my seat. I’m listening to Hilary Hahn play the Adagio from Bach’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in E, BWV 1042. As the movement opens, this old woman gets up from her chair and starts practicing some morning Tai Chi Chuan. And it’s like I’m the sole witness to this sublime personal ballet. Her movements are graceful and limber, far beyond what you would expect from a woman of her years, and the movements of her hands in the air surrounding her seem to be in perfect step with every note being played. It is an indescribable moment of pure elegance; sublime, spontaneous beauty that will disappear with the the pre-boarding announcements coming over the loudspeaker for my next flight. For a moment there, I witnessed art – but I was the only one who knew about it.

Random Acts of Kindness

You know, lately I have been so put off by what I have been seeing and reading on the news, reading on weblogs, and hearing on the radio, that for the past few days I have intentionally banned myself from turning on the TV, reading my subscriptions in NetNewsWire, or listening to anything but music in the car on the way to work. It was making me depressed, and I’m not even going to try to get into it again here.

So last Friday something very cool happened to me, which made me remember that humanity is capable of profound greatness. I have a changed attitude, a different outlook on life from now on, because of one act of selfless generosity that was bestowed upon myself.

I had told a friend of mine at work about my past life as a bassist, about how I had this great instrument that was really in bad shape and needed a complete restoration, and the whole story about the car vs. bike accident that essentially stopped my music career but at the same time opened up the possibility of my web and graphic design career that I now have. I had mentioned that I had been saving up my ducats for years to get this work done, and finally after many false starts I was going to get it done once and for all this year.

So on a business trip this person mentioned the story to the CEO of our company. They then decided to take up a collection within the company to help with the repair costs, and asked the CFO if the company could match the gift up to $500. The CFO decided a $1000 match was even better. And so in just a few days, without my knowledge, the people of this Persistence Software put together $1000 in my name, and the company in turn handed me a check, including the matched funds, for $2000 last Friday at a pizza party we were having during lunch!

Never in my life have I been on the receiving end of such a display of respect and generosity from so many different people. I was, and still am, completely shocked and amazed. If you consider the numbers: $1000 divided by 50 people equals an average donation size of $20. That just blows me away that so many of my colleagues would plunk down that much money just to help another guy out.

So now the question becomes, what to do now? I mean yeah, I know what to do with the money and all that – get more of the bass work that I need done such as the C-extension and finding a good bow. But how to pass along the generosity when it has been handed to you? How do you keep that momentum going? I am reminded of the book/movie Pay It Forward, and I think that something along these lines is in order. Perhaps not so formal as the book describes it, but maybe just taking the opportunity to commit a random act of kindness now and then.

Well, now I’m even more so inspired to keep practicing. You can’t ever squander an event like this. Always keep that momentum when it presents itself to you.