Punchinello’s Chronicles

November 23, 2009

Qualities of Excellence

Filed under: The Great Adventure! — Punchinello @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,

The older I get, the less impressed I am with many things going on in the world around me. It’s perhaps that I’m changing somehow, due to age and presumed cynicism. But I think it has more to do with the historical times in which we’re living. Life and progress happen in cycles if you follow history, and as such, there’s more or less progress at different historical times.

We’re living in a period of slow progress, where two fundamental ways of living are in conflict. The one is the mythological, where people don’t really think about or care about reasoned explanations of anything. The other is the scientific method, requiring reason, logic and data. Lost in the middle is a third way of living, blending that which we can see with that which we imagine. The problem seems to be that we’ve removed imagination from our lives to a large extent.

Be that as it may, I’ve been totally impressed with a few things I’ve run across on YouTube recently. They highlight the use and purpose of imagination.

We aren’t limited anymore to only what we find in our local neighborhoods, or even our local regions. Instead, we’ve come to a place where the whole WORLD is coming into visibility! People everywhere do amazing things; not everyone all the time, but individuals here and there. The problem is that until now, we haven’t had a way to find those individuals. Now we have the Internet and things like YouTube.

Each of the following example shows that there’s hope for the world and for the human race. At least I think so. Perhaps you’ll agree. Regardless, though, I wanted to gather these examples together in one place, because they all deserve an Oh Wow!

The first is a version of Amazing Grace that, indeed, is amazing! Performed by Il Devo, not only is the whole rendition excellent, but the intersection between the bagpipes near the middle, and the entrance of the baritone solo is stunning! (Just click twice, embedding has been disabled in order to have you watch it on YouTube directly.)

Then, on a completely different level, there’s this version of The Lion Sleeps Tonight, originally known as Wimoweh. It’s the story of an African legend, speaking about how the great lion (symbolizing the Spirit) sleeps in the jungle (of life) but knows of our waking, daily struggles. Performed by Ladysmith Black Mambazo and The Mint Juleps, the level of elegance, grace, and simplicity arrive at a perfect summit. Yet there’s all the complexity of male-female, active-passive, yin and yang, not to mention the subtleties of exquisite details.

There are two basic languages of existence, at least that we human beings can perceive. The one is mathematics, the other is music. Each language offers the scope of countless layers of information, and provides a way to blend those many, many layers into a unified whole. Part of that language is rhythm, and the Kings Firecrackers are astonishing. They’re students from a school in Kings County, Ohio, offering us an alternative to my theory that exercise will kill you.

All three of these examples bring together the principles of elegance and grace, and show us that life isn’t about forcing effort and grinding through technical details. It’s about “going with a flow,” which is part of the Eastern way of doing things. But passive floating isn’t the answer either. There must be a component of desire, intent, and having a specific “something” in mind. It’s the dream we see in our imagination, brought into the world as a visible reality.

Today’s young folks have almost lost that ability to dream. They’ve become nearly inarticulate in their lack of ability to express anything, much less their most powerful emotions. Rising to the top of that lost nihilism, Lily Allen still retains her capacity to speak out loud in music. “Fuck You Very Much” doesn’t much sound like a title for an excellent song, but when you explore others of her songs, you begin to truly empathize with the darkness of a lost world of narcissism.

When we consider the astronomical level of destruction that’s been wrought by the world’s bankers, politicians, and academic philosophers, there isn’t much left to say other than “screw this!” But Lily Allen has somehow retained enough soul and spirit that she creates gold. All of us can do the same, by looking around at our own lives and finding those specific things we can change.

There’s a crash coming, and life will get hard for awhile. But just as the lion eventually wakes again, so too will the spirit of human individualism and excellence rise to the call. We’ve slept too long and let too many of “them” run our lives. Too many of us are still asleep, but that’s changing as well. We’re waking up, and it shows in the wondrous creations of people like these, in the above examples. Be inspired!


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