Around the end of last year, I began to conceive of a new book, an honest-to-goodness nonfiction book, about music.
At first, I thought it might be a ‘how-to’ of playing guitar, my instrument of choice. But the technical aspect of music is not an inspiring one for me, at least not a subject I’d be inspired to write on.
What concerns me nowadays is the learning process, and how it is integrated in daily life. That one could engage in musical endeavors is almost incidental to the development of one’s person.
Two books come to mind: George Leonard’s ‘Mastery,’ and Philip Toshio Sudo’s ‘Zen guitar.’ I’d like to publish some amalgam of the two, focusing on my experience of music and how this relates to other interests of mine: basketball free throws and language learning.
The past 10 years of my life have been the most educational to me. This is a strange thing to say, having finished my ‘official’ schooling 15 years ago. But I’ve only really learned about education at a relatively late time. Specifically, the fact that much of it involves habit more than conscious will. Fun and relaxation have to be a part of the process, rather than a reward to come later. This is the only way difficult subjects can be ingrained in one’s memory and way of life. This is what I’ve found to be true from studying philosophy, political economy, free-throw shooting, and non-native languages, among other things.
I’ve been putting myself to the test by studying new musical pieces, specifically the work of Bach, and I try to take note not just of what I’m learning but of how I’m learning.
One of the harder things I’ve had to realize is the need to pace myself, allowing myself time off from constantly thinking and worrying that I might forget what I had just learned. There still persists the bias that learning is primarily conscious, and therefore requiring my constant attention. I now believe that learning a subject itself requires forgetting, at least, a detachment from contexts in which I learn it, so as to better remember in contexts alien from the earlier environment.
The conscious will is still necessary, but more as a director than as an actor. I still need to consciously devise schedules and push myself to follow curricula, not to mention choose the subjects themselves.
At the moment, I’m of the mindset that once I learn what I desire to learn for this year, I will be ‘good,’ and content with what I will know. But the will to educate has to persist if one is to remain relevant in the world, at whatever age.