The Daily Stoic for July 10th. “Love The Humble Art”.
“Love the humble art you have learned, and take rest in it. Pass through the remainder of your days as one who whole-heartedly entrusts all possessions to the gods, making yourself neither a tyrant nor a slave to any person.”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 4.31
In 2007, I left the post-rock band I was playing with to start my own solo project, “Bosques de mi Mente” (Forests of my mind). Without previous knowledge of how to play the piano, I started practicing at home and eventually recorded my first album roughly three months later.
My naivety allowed me to ignore the fact that I had no piano technique, formal musical education or recording experience. If I had stopped to consider any of these things, I might have never embarked on one of the most wonderful adventures of my life, recorded 14 albums and played in places like Iceland or Brazil.
The Remnants Of What Once Were Majestic Forests…
I ended Bosques de mi Mente because I made a terrible mistake: I licensed my music under creative common licenses, allowing anyone to download or share the music for free as long as they respected attribution, and didn’t use the music for commercial purposes.
I was young and I really believed in the goodness of mankind. As it turned out, most people don’t understand the difference between “I let you listen and share my music for free” with “my music is yours, use it for everything without even asking me”.
The difference, however, was important for me, and retaining creative control of my work, and where my music was being used. After years of abuse, people making money out of my music without even asking me or giving me attribution, and some more disgusting experiences, I put all my music under copyright and finished the project for good.
Love The Humble Art
So my experience was not positive at all. After finishing the project, I continued playing and even composing music for myself.
Then, when we became digital nomads, as part of our decluttering process, I sold my piano. That was one of the most difficult moments in my life, and the single hardest sacrifice I made to follow this new path in my life.
However, it was also a liberation. With my piano, I got rid of lots of emotional stuff.
Except for a short piece at the Tallinn airport, I have not played the piano since I sold mine… until some days ago. There was this old, beautiful piano at the hotel we were staying in. I decided to give it a try. To my surprise, I was able to play lots of songs from Bosques de mi Mente almost if time had not passed at all. It was a powerful experience, and I’m grateful for having had this moment of musical catharsis.
Nobody listened to me. It was a completely private experience, remembering the days when I had my piano, composed and played regularly. In the future, maybe my road will take me to a house with my own grand. But for now, I just love the humble art… whenever I have the chance to.
Today’s Daily Stoic, “Love The Humble Art”, resonated a lot with me. Some days ago, in the hotel where I was enjoying some vacation days, I found a piano and was able to play music again… It was a magical, beautiful moment, that taught me a lot of things about the things we sacrifice, the decisions we make, about music, love, and feelings.