15 September 2012

Moments of clarity, as related to one's skill level

Years ago, at my violin teacher's house, I was hit full force with an acute understanding of my precise skill level. It was as though years of study had finally carried me to the point of comprehending a centimeter. And because I now understood a centimeter, the difference in magnitude between a centimeter and a kilometer sprang into sharp focus. (It's a lot, you guys.)

I'll never be a kilometer-level violinist. I'm not being negative about my abilities; I simply don't have the desire to get there. While I enjoy violin and plan to pick it up again in the future* I am content to merely understand the magnitude of a kilometer, to carry the metaphor too far.
*Oh! how higher education derails the best intentions for maintenance of one's musical skills.

I've been thinking about how I was a centimeter-violinist because I keep having that moment-of-clarity this year with writing. I've climbed to the top of a small hill and now see mountains beyond mountains beyond mountains into the horizon. Unlike with the violin, where I was happy to stand on that hill and admire the view, with writing I'm about to pack up and head out. It's thrilling and terrifying, but mostly thrilling.

The moment-of-clarity reminds me of what Isaac Newton said about how he was merely a child playing with pebbles on the beach while the ocean of truth expanded into the horizon beyond. (Except I find it doubtful he actually felt that modest about the situation. At any rate, it's more like he was in a little boat disappearing on the horizon while the rest of us are still trying to find the right exit to get to the damn beach. Dude was scary smart.)

Humans tend to want to venture into the mountains, you see, when it's the right sort of mountains. Or the right sort of kilometer. Or the right sort of ocean. (Yes, I've beaten the mixed metaphors completely to death.) Or, as Carl Sagan puts it in this rather wonderful autotune, the right sort of dawn, i.e. a still more glorious one.

Seriously, I dare you to not find this song inspiring. It's particularly good on a larger view than this tiny embedded viewer, so click away and embiggen!

Now You!

Have you had similar moments of clarity? What mountains/kilometer/ocean/dawn makes you want to head out and see how far you can go?