The artist brings something into the world that didn’t exist before and he does it without destroying something else.
~ John Updike (1932 –)
JUST HOURS AGO, I stumbled upon the music of a young violinist, Lindsey Stirling while browsing through YouTube trying to find that piece of music that would elevate my soul unto my own level of sacredness, paraphrasing psychologist Jonathan Haidt from a TED talk he gave on called Religion, Evolution, and the Ecstasy of Self-Transcendence. And how I even found one of Stirling’s pieces online is in fact a story in itself.
Therefore, this column will be a story within a story, or “story-ception”, as I’d like to call it.
So let’s go back to the very beginning of how I stumbled upon Stirling in the first place.
I was re-watching another YouTube video by a younger classmate of mine, Lucy Shen—who is a high school junior this year—perform a cover of Call Me Maybe (originally performed by Carly Rae Jepson), and right there in the middle of the Related Videos section was a screenshot of a girl holding what appeared to be a violin and a banner that read “Electric Daily Violin – Lindsey Stirling.”
Intrigued by the title—and way more intrigued with its over 2 million views—I clicked on the icon and was redirected to the following video here:
Within seconds of hearing Lindsey play, the tune simply reminded me of a cross between classical Chinese music (probably because of the association between Asians and the musical stereotypes that occasionally run through my mind) and that of an Irish jig—or in this case, a more revamped, contemporary one. Nevertheless this piece is something much more out of the ordinary I should say, because although there are numerous violinists out there these days, Lindsey’s style and choreography attracted my attention and the way she will occasionally kick her legs in the air at certain moments both resemble Irish folk dancing and doing the cancan.
But I am very impressed with the fact that she can almost seemingly strut across the scenery and play the violin simultaneously—and thinking in the back of my mind how much practice she must have done in order to achieve this.
After all, devoting long periods of time to practicing a passion doesn’t just require skill. It also requires that tedious, painstaking effort to perfect an art.
TO BE HAPPY, to be successful, to have a meaningful life, having a passion is mandatory. A passionless life is an empty life.
Yet, “passion” may be the most widely misunderstood and incorrectly used English word. It doesn’t mean what most people think it means.
This becomes a huge quality-of-life problem when kids grow up without a passion because they don’t understand what passions are (and aren’t).
One thing they often aren’t is enjoyable. I enjoy eating and sleeping and reading on the beach. I enjoy watching football and basketball and going to the movies. But these aren’t passions. They’re pleasures, and pleasures don’t require effort. Passions do.
A lot of time, we hate our passions. Even though they can provide massive joy, they are equally capable of causing searing pain.
A passion is an intense emotion, but not always an enjoyable emotion. Passion can be anger and suffering. The Passion of Christ was not about Jesus having a good time.
The aggravated artist who punches his imperfect painting and stuffs it into the trash is passionate about his work. So is the angry ballerina who slumps in front of the mirror, tears of passion trickling down her cheeks. And don’t forget the dedicated accountant, working alone, late into the night, determined to make the balance sheet balance.
The lesson every kid desperately needs to know is that sometimes — oftentimes — the thing they love the most is the same thing they’ll hate the most. That if what they think is a passion really is a passion, they should have a yin/yang, love/hate relationship with it.
~ Jaime Richards, an excerpt from Understanding the Meaning of Passion (2010)
Most things we will do in life will involve a constant pain/pleasure relationship, as Jaime clearly states here—things like going to school, paying the bills, computing taxes, doing laundry, even raising children (on behalf of all the parents out there). It will never be easy, but it must be done. “That’s passion”, according to Jaime.
And it’s also a passion, according to me as well.
I’m not only motivated by people like Lindsey Stirling by what she does. I’m motivated to get up and tap to her beat every time I hear her music.
And even though I just missed St. Patrick’s Day, Electric Daisy Violin is a soul-moving instrumental and melody that can speak life into hearts and souls—and as for me, I find my soul-moving passion in writing columns and hoping that by doing so, other people will be enlightened and will have eye-opening experiences when they read not only my words, but essentially the words of all six billion people on this planet.
And I also seek to continue to tell one little piece of a story which actually fits into a gigantic jigsaw puzzle of what humanity is like. In other words, one little piece of my story, a human story.
Be inspired, be motivated, be productive, but most of all, you must “be true, be true, be true” (The Scarlet Letter).
Now get out there and “see the blue” (Richards). Go out there and find a passion.
Happy belated St. Patty’s Day too.
~ A Fellow Columnist, Josh Chen.