I studied philosophy for the first time when I was a freshman in college. Before then, the most I knew about philosophers was from the Monty Python’s Philosopher’s Song. After a few months of study I had an epiphany. “All philosophers do,” I realized, “is look around at the world and then write down what they think about it. Why read what other people think? Why not write down what I think?”
It would be a long time before I wrote down in earnest what I thought about the world, but in the intervening years my relationship to philosophy did not change. I always considered it something I was perfectly equipped to do should I ever choose to pursue it. I did not consider myself specially equipped, however. I had a mind and a functioning pair of eyes and ears. As far as I could tell, that was truly all that was required.
On the other hand, I spent the first forty years of my life wishing I could write music. I loved music, was a true fan of music, often turning to it first to lift my spirits when they were low. I would fantasize that I was a classical composer or a songwriter. In these fantasies, I was a slightly better version of myself – a more confident self, a more creative self. Music, it seemed to me, was a language that naturally crossed many borders people erected between themselves, borders of race and culture and religion and nationality. How easily music could ignore these, as well as that final border, the border of the critical mind, which analyzed before it felt, which saw truth and happiness as puzzles to be assembled rather than experiences to be appreciated. It seemed like a special language in which only special people were fully fluent.
I eventually discovered I had a program on my computer that would allow me write any kind of song I liked without having to master the instruments necessary to play them. All I needed was a little music theory, and I could compose! However, before I could begin learning music theory I, had to accept that composers were not special people. I was still the exact same guy, and I felt no more special than before. I was as surprised at how easily I shed this old idea about composers as I was that I was now a guy who wrote music.
It is a little odd to me now that I had put philosophers into one category of person and composers into another, but I suppose that’s because I never particularly enjoyed reading philosophy. It’s nice to be a fan, but fandom can create an unreal distinction. Everyone’s listening to the same song, and everyone’s appreciating the same song, whether we’re playing or not.
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Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write With Confidence.
You can find William at: williamkenower.com