Saturday, February 28, 2009

Perspective: Benjamin Zander TED Talk

I saw this on Twitter today (@ponzarelli).
I have been spending so much time
there lately. I never could have imagined
the possibilities that have unfolded as a
result...however, that is a different
blog entry.

This one is about this precious video, the
precious message I received from spending
time there. The message I saw on Twitter
said it was the most ReTweeted
(for those who don't know what that means,
it was the most SHARED).

When you look at it, I am fairly certain you
will understand why.

In the video, Benjamin Zander says many
profound things. There are in 2 in particular
that stand out to me.

I will place my comments below, in case you
want to view the video first. My comments might
make more sense that way, however I hope to write
it in a way that the message may still be gotten.

Let's face it.

Sometimes it sucks to be human.

I know, not a terribly enlightening thing
to say. However, in the midst of anguish,
frustration, confusion, anger, and a
myriad of other human emotions, it would
be easy to feel like it really does suck.

It sucks because it's all you know at the

In the middle of that, there is always
an opportunity for a different perspective.

Easily attained, perhaps not.

However it IS there, waiting for its turn.

Once I heard someone say something to the
effect that life is like waves, when you're
up, you may wind up down, and when you're
down, you can look forward to going up.

I am not sure that is the most empowering
way to look at it. However, it is like
saying "being human sucks." It is an
acknowledgment of the fact that despite
our best efforts, we can't know everything
or control everyone and everything.

And despite the fact that these things
seem to be true, we don't want them to be.

I can't say anything for a fact, except
for what I am experiencing in my own life,
and even that might be open to interpretation.

However, in the exact moment of distress,
there is no other interpretation.

Having said that, I also think in my calmer,
more enlightened, moments that there are
things greater than our limited perspective.

I think that the journey we take through
all of the twists and turns, the ups and the
downs teach us something about ourselves,
and what is important - TO US.

I think that maybe life is a training ground
that never ceases to give us insights. Now
whether or not we choose to give them the
light of day is something all together

Sometimes we look for a confirmation of
an answer to a question we ask. Since we
already think we know the answer, it's the
only one we want.

The only problem comes when we don't get
the one we want. Talk about FRUSTRATION!

Maybe we could get what we wanted, however,
there is something better that comes out
of it when we don't.

In college, I got to go to England & Europe
because of a set of circumstances at the time
that seemed to me to be devastating. I had no
clue when it was happening that a great
summer in England and Europe was going to be

I would like to think that if I knew it was
going to happen that way I would have felt
better about what was happening at the time.
Maybe I would have. Maybe I could have.

But I'll never know. What I do know, however,
is that it did work out perfectly.

Did I want to know what was going to happen?

Did I need to know all of the small steps
along the way for it to work out? No.

And this, I believe, is what Benjamin
is referring to when he is discussing classical
music. There is one piece in particular
that he focuses on. In that context,
he says, it is "a piece that goes from
away to home...for me to join the B to
the E [he's referring to how the music is
written, the scale]I have to stop thinking
about every single note along the way
and start thinking about the long long
line from B to E."

This subject has been on my mind a lot
lately, as so many people I have spoken
to recently have been struggling
(myself included) in terms of finding
their way, their path, the direction
that is theirs to take.

It has been a long and winding road that
many have been frustrated with. Answers
are being sought to questions, and it
seems that many are left with the question.

I get it. Believe me, I do. I always say,
"I have more questions than answers."
Sometimes I am better with that ratio than
others. Sometimes it frustrates the heck
out of me. I WANT TO KNOW that what I am
doing is the RIGHT thing. I WANT TO KNOW
that the direction I am heading in is the

Recently, I had a session with a lovely
woman, Barbara Barnett (
and part of what I got from the session was
to just keep taking steps. Yeah, but is
each step going in the RIGHT direction???

I know it's tough to know when there's a
lot you don't know.

For me, when Benjamin said the piece was
like going from away to home, it was a metaphor
for our journey in life. The more we travel
our path, the more we are true to ourselves,
the closer we come to being "home."

The second part of what he says speaks to
the process of the journey: "for me to
join the B to the E [he's referring to how
the music is written, the scale] I have
to stop thinking about every single note
along the way and start thinking about
the long long line from B to E."

To me, it's like saying, stop paying attention
to those steps that you are taking, and think
about the big picture (the long long line) of
what my life is intended to be.

It's not to say the steps themselves are
unimportant. However, at every moment we are
moving forward. There are signs, there is
traffic, there are stop lights, there are
highways. We will find our way, just as we
would to any other place we are intending
to go.

In case you are thinking, "I don't know what
my life is intended to be!" The seeming detours
are likely to show us things that are important
for us to know about ourselves...ultimately
giving us insight into what our own unique
path is to be.

Yes. It would be great if the Purpose and
Intention Fairy would come and tell us what it
is. However, being the human that you are,
would that really work for you? My guess is
probably not.

I am unable to tell you the countless number
of times someone has either told me something
or I have told them something that didn't
click until the time was right, until there was
a moment of a receptivity to the message.

You might consider that the only reason you
don't have your answer is that you are - for
whatever reason - not currently in a place to
receive it/act on it.

If someone tells you how you should feel and why
you should feel that way, does that ever work?
Why would in work in this case? We come to
know ourselves in the context of our experiences.
Our experiences come from actions which create
results. These results create feedback, which
ultimately helps us to define who we are and
what is important to us.

Btw, remember what I said, I am in this with you,
and so are others. Yes, it helps to know that
perhaps. And yet, your experience is uniquely
yours, the "bad" and the "good."

There is no one who will ever truly know what
you feel. Somehow that might just be a good
thing because the very thing that might just
seem frustrating might be the best way for you
to come to know who you are, and what you need
to be doing, and the direction you need to take.

In the video Benjamin suggests you listen to
the piece with someone in mind. Might I suggest
something similar?

Listen to your life, like you did to the various
pieces of the composition, with yourself in mind.
When he suggested who to keep in mind, it was
like telling you to listen with your heart
instead of your head. Listen to your life from
your heart. Live your life from your heart, and
you may hear things a whole different way.

Benjamin said at one point,
"Everybody loves classical music,
they just haven't found out about it yet."

I would venture a guess that
Everybody has a life to love,
they just haven't uncovered the beauty of
what their life experience has to offer yet.



Linda Boney said...

Very good blog Elizabeth, interesting and insightful.


Linda Boney said...

I highly recommend the book, The Game of Life and how to play it" by Francis Scovel Shinn.


Luna said...

I can't wait to go listen to the TED talk now !! seeing that this blog was posting at the beginnning of our knowing eachother and now 7 months later, don't want to think of you not being in my thoughts :)

we all have a journey to travel and each a path to make, and waving hello, sending smiles and offering a hand along the way is an important part of being human. I can not tell you where to go or what to do but I can share my story and you yours to remind us we are not alone and that no matter where you go someone holds a good thought for you in their heart.