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"It's an ill bird that fouls its own nest."
A little news and opinion on environmental and sociopolitical happenings.
Yo-Yo Ma and I have had a love-hate relationship all our lives.
I have loved him because he’s such a wonderful person and genius, but sometimes – and I won’t say it’s exactly hate that I harbor for him though I used the term earlier – but I find I am exasperated at him because of how perfect he is.
We were born three years apart, he the younger; yet at five, he was playing three different musical instruments and settling on the cello as his instrument of choice. I was still wetting the bed, occasionally.
At seven, he was a virtuoso playing with Aaron Copland and before President John F. Kennedy. I was in second grade, having started school a year early, but not because I was a child prodigy, but because my mother wanted me out of the house and out of her hair.
He was the cutest of children, adorable and lovable. I was, well, I was a kid that when people saw me, they said to my mother, “Hmmm, you ought to be pleased he’s healthy.”
As a young man, he traveled the world over seeing everything there was to see. I was seventeen before I left my home state and traveled to Colorado.
In his mid-forties, he was setting up a non-profit organization, the Silk Road Project, that used music to encourage multicultural interaction, understanding, and collaboration. I was just settling into a profession after years of indecision and jumping from one thing to another.
Yo-Yo Ma was selected to be an ambassador of peace by the United Nations and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. Hmmm, let me see what medals have I been awarded: NONE.
This guy has memorized hundreds of pieces of music and plays them flawlessly. I can’t sit down at the piano and play one verse of “Jingle Bells” without looking at the music and hitting half a dozen wrong notes.
The only thing Yo-Yo Ma and I have in common is that we both have had only one wife. He and his wife have been married 42 years, my wife and I for 44 years. My marriage has lasted because of my wife’s enduring long-suffering, but I’m sure Yo-Yo Ma’s marriage’s longevity has much to do with his calm and patient disposition.
That’s the real trait of Ma’s that I envy: his even and humble temperament, his engaging personality. Anytime I have seen him interacting with other musicians he is gracious towards them, and they are always complimentary of his friendship and collaboration.
Everybody loves Yo-Yo Ma; no one has anything bad to say about him.
I think, no, I am positive, the world would be a better place if we were all more like Yo-Yo Ma. He draws attention without demanding it; he yields to others with selflessness. He plays the lead without being a showoff, and he accompanies with the same intensity and humility as he plays the lead.
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