Reflections on Art and Life
The depths of the ocean are supposed to be earth’s last frontier. Far removed from the reach of humankind, indeed, even from the rays of light, are bizarre creatures of the sea, swept about by the blind currents of the water. The fish are perfectly adapted to their mysterious world, communicating with the life around them by emitting colors unseen by humans.
One of my teachers recently posed this question:
“What is success?”
What constitutes success, specifically success for a music composer? Is it the gold frequent flyer status earned by music touring? Is it a performance in a particular venue with appropriate publicity? Is it a number of sold records? Is it the “who you know, not what you know”? Is it a cushy job with benefits? Is it a name on a building?
Many great antiquity and medieval composers did not have any of these things. Many wrote music out of their overflowing inner well, without the thought of reward or recognition. Many, brilliantly gifted, are forever forgotten because their stone tablets, parchments, or paper manuscripts were destroyed, while the music of their mediocre colleagues survived through some unfair twist of events. Is the one whose works survived millenia more successful than the one whose works did not? Perhaps.
Perhaps dolphins who perform back flips for humans above the surface of the water are more “successful” than the deep sea creatures no one has ever seen. Unless, of course, those creatures derive their purpose and meaning by merely living at the bottom of the ocean, dazzling the darkness with their colors, entirely oblivious to human praise.
©2007 Dosia McKay