I'm just going to briefly tie together two past posts I've done- specifically the ones on Thinking and Innocence. You ought to have read those. If you haven't... I'll wait... go ahead... I'll be here when you're done.
I was browsing around the internet the other day and came across that oft-reiterated Aristotle* quote (not the one about men having more teeth than women):
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.
We are what we repeatedly do! Would you like to be excellent? Be excellent! Would you like to be manly? Act like a man. You will never feel like a man unless you start acting how a man would act. You will never feel like an Eishet Chayil (a Proverbs 31 woman) unless you start acting how you read she would act! As my friend Colby has told me countless times (and he heard it from some very wise men): desire follows action. I don't want to get out of the bed at 5:30 in the morning, but if I do, I develop the desire to do so after the fact. If you've lost that loving feeling for your wife, by all means, do what you would do if the feeling was still there. Desire will follow your action. Desire follows action. And action sustained is habit.
And what is an addiction, but a habit of ill-repute? And those habits can be broken, Baruch HaShem.
Here's the deal: in the musical world, there is this secret progression of chords that rears its seductive head in at least 80% of mainstream media. The chord progression isn't really that secret- and that's the problem. The most dangerous secrets aren't secrets at all these days, are they? In our you-need-this-now culture of the 21st century, we've deified Knowledge; if you don't know, you don't belong; teach us everything, else we be forced to learn. We flood ourselves on all five senses with that which our fathers deemed irrelevant or inappropriate, craving with sullied innocence some further knowledge we hope would un-know us; as if there existed some yet unknown secret that would rebuild our ignorance. And we've changed holes: instead of in-one-ear-and-out-the-other, Gen Y demonstrates in-one-ear-and-out-the-mouth; no matter how much fast food America may consume, we've yet to satisfactorily plug our trivial garrulity.
Right, <cough cough> as I was saying: just four chords**; four simple chords. Once you learn them, and play them, your mind goes there WAY TOO OFTEN while composing 'original' music. It's scary. I know them, and I hate that I know them! In the key of C, these chords are Am | F | C | G. Wow. Now you know them too. And they crop up everywhere! Name a song. There's a beefy chance those four chords (in that order) are in there. When I'm at the piano, I try to trick my mind into avoiding the four chords (I say this with hushed reverence), but to no avail: I'll start the song in something crazy, like F# - that's six sharps! - and just minutes in, I'll catch myself aimlessly playing the transposed four chords: D#m | B | F# | C#. Ahh! Redeem me!
All that to say: there is freedom in consciously determining to break a habit. The moment you let your subconscious take over -- if you haven't sufficiently trained it otherwise -- it will return to its vomit. Like a dog. You catch my drift.
Anyway. I was sick last week with a cold. By Friday night, I had nearly recovered, but the brain was still a bit foggy from all the astragalus in my system ;) Below is a song I played right before Shabbos started. You'll have to listen closely to see if I ever stooped so low as to let the basest of all chord progressions any measure of credence amidst lucid expression***.
* Aristotle didn't really say it. It's a common misattribution :) It was really Will Durant. But it's sort of a summation of what Aristotle was saying. Ha! Maybe you can be that annoyingly accurate person at cocktail parties.
** What does 'just' mean, anyway? Just now. Just you. God is just. You're just as just as you just were.
*** How many puns was that? I don't know. It felt like a lot.