The other week our son sent this link to us. Jay was part of the crew that shot this video. Click here to watch. It is a video vignette about the "oldest active conductor in the world". Hopefully it will put a smile on your face. It did mine.
What I found inspiring was that this gentleman was doing what he loved. And he did it all his life. What a joy and blessing for him to be exposed to music and to be able to express it and share with others the beauty and mystery of sound. As he says, he was surrounded by music even when "I was in my mommy's belly".
Watching him makes me want to return to music in my life: to have notes and melodies swirl around my head and in my home; to be enveloped and overwhelmed by the emotion of the sound; to be part of the creation of the music.
Watching him makes me envious of his commitment and passion for one thing. I am so in awe of those individuals who have found their calling relatively early in life and have had such dedication to it throughout their lifespan. I think of Jane Goodall, Madeleine L'Engle, Dame Judi Dench, Julia Child (though she was an older adult when she took cooking lessons in France), Paul McCartney, A. Philip Randolph.
While we were on vacation these last couple of weeks, we read a lot of books. One that my husband read and I have started is The Road to Character, by David Brooks. So far I have found it very interesting. "Looking to some of the world's greatest thinkers and inspiring leaders, Brooks explores how, through internal struggle and a sense of their own limitations, they have built a strong inner character."
Brooks talks about these individuals and their call to vocation. He notes that people who take part in their called vocational activities have joy. I think that is what is so appealing in the video of the centenarian conductor. There is joy in Mr. Ed Simons love of conducting and love of music. That is probably what kept him going for so long.
David Brooks uses an illustration from Dorothy L. Sayers (a mystery writer but also a theologian). Ms. Sayers makes a distinction between serving the community and serving the work. “There is, in fact, a paradox about working to serve the community, and it is this: that to aim directly at serving the community is to falsify the work; the only way to serve the community is to forget the community and serve the work.”
As Mr. Brooks adds, "But if you serve the work- if you perform each task to its utmost perfection- then you will experience the deep satisfaction of craftsmanship and you will end up serving the community more richly than you could have consciously planned. And one sees this in people with a vocation- a certain rapt expression, a hungry desire to perform a dance or run an organization to its utmost perfection. They feel the joy of having their values in deep harmony with their behavior. They experience a wonderful certainty of action that banishes weariness from even the hardest days."
What about you? Are you banishing weariness even in the hardest days? If not, what would bring joy for you? Do you need to experience more _____(fill in the blank- music, art, literature, relationship building) in your life? What can you do differently to achieve that?
Do you have a single-mindedness to your work- either career or vocation? Or, like me do you have many interests and passions?
I think the people who have that single-mindedness of purpose are placed in our lives to inspire us. Their interest and excitement in what they do can be infectious. We may not have a life-long interest but we can have a seasonal one. We can strive to perform whatever the task with the utmost perfection so that we too can experience joy with whatever we do. Who knows? We might end up living life to its fullest like Mr. Simons.