Diversity

Imagine if there were no mountains, no hills, only flat land; only one type of tree, only one color of flower.  Imagine if all people had the same eye color, same hair color, same skin color, spoke the same language.

Fortunately, there are almost infinite varieties of landscapes, trees, flowers, people, languages. Each of us is unique. No-one else has my combination of physical attributes and my combination of experiences that make me who I am today and the exact same opinions and knowledge that I do. Isn’t that wonderful?

If everyone were the same, it would be like living in a gray world or like watching TV in black and white. It would be like looking out my window and seeing no mountains, no blue sky, no fifty shades of green in the trees alone. I wouldn’t want to live in a world like that. I love the diversity in this one. I like having color in my life. I like having a diverse group of friends in my life who keep me thinking, and discussing, and talking about anything and everything.

How about you?

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Attitude again

How did you get to where you are today? Would you be who you are today if all your experiences had been positive? It has been said that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger (Friedrich Nietzsche) but is that really true?

I know that I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for the experiences I have encountered in my life, good and bad.  I truly believe that, as Dolly Parton said, if you want to have the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain. Life is a journey through good times and bad. If we don’t have the darkness, we don’t appreciate the light. And just because we have light, doesn’t mean that darkness doesn’t exist; just because we have food doesn’t mean there isn’t hunger in the world.

We can’t expect to only have good times or only have bad times. We have to believe that the bad times will end; that the good times may be fleeting but we must enjoy them. All of us experience events differently; what may be good for one may be bad for someone else. We cannot judge what someone else feels by how we feel about the same thing. Our experiences are different; our emotional makeup is different; we are unique. So how do some people survive horrendous events and others don’t? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do know that our attitude has a huge influence on how we view events. I have seen people devastated by divorce who spend the rest of their lives angry and resentful. I have seen others who use the experience as a stepping stone to a better life.

I try to put a positive spin on everything (like Pollyanna??) but I believe that in the long run, it serves me well.

Music

I love music; it can match my mood or change it depending on what I’m listening to. It can also calm me and distract me; make me laugh and make me cry.  I listen to a lot of different music from classical to rock to reggae to jazz, folk, and bluegrass. There are times I want to listen to something in particular; there are other times I enjoy putting my iPod on shuffle and just listening to whatever comes up. William Congreve, in his poem The Mourning Bride, written in 1697, said:  “Music has charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” (Often misquoted as to soothe a savage beast!)
In movies, the music can signal what is coming – the rising crescendo in a horror movie for example, or the plaintive melody that accompanies a sad ending. These same pieces of music can affect us whenever we hear them, perhaps calling to mind the particular scene in the movie. Or perhaps we can hear a song that reminds us of what we were doing when we heard it. Or perhaps the song just moves us in a particular way. My most favorite song of all time is “Unchained Melody”, but only when sung by the Righteous Brothers; any other rendition doesn’t move me like their version of it.
My favorite blue-mood music is Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. But again there are several different versions of this piece; my favorite has real bells and cannon. Somehow, the electronic simulations of bells and cannon take away from the piece. One of my favorite memories of the 1812 is attending a Fourth of July concert on the levee in Baton Rouge when the kids were young. The Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra played perfectly; the bells and cannon were perfectly synchronized. I remember getting goose bumps and tearing up at the perfection of the piece. I still listen to the 1812 if I am particularly depressed and need some uplifting.
My tastes in music are admittedly eclectic; I love hearing new artists and new pieces. I may not like them, but at least I gave them a try. Life is sort of like that; unless we venture out into uncharted waters, how do we know what we will like? I know too many people who just say, ‘Oh, I wouldn’t like that’! How do they know unless they try? I think their minds are closed to new experiences; they prefer to stay where they are and be ‘safe’. How boring that would be for me!