A little thought for this Monday morning as we begin another working week. Tell me something – What does work mean to you?
Work is life for me – it’s joys, it’s triumphs and disasters leave impact on my life in more ways than I could express. Some of us work to live and others live to work. We spend a lifetime, working. We take so much pride and happiness with what we do, day in and day out, so much so, that for many of us, a major part of our self-esteem is deeply rooted to how our work defines us, eventually making us the person that we are. All this happens irrespective of our day to day conscious awareness of how inextricably tied we all are to the roles assigned to us.
It must be no surprise then to think how deeply satisfying it can be for us to be able to see the final product of our labour, talent and efforts – that definitive beautiful end product that we’re now ready to share with the world; that, which leads us to be recognised for our talent and our capabilities, which then becomes an integral part of our happiness.
But, what if things don’t go as planned and suddenly one day, we realise fate has something else in store for us? What if that ‘something‘ happens to wipe out our chances of existence and survival, threatening to wipe out our ability to work, and leave us with nothing but despair?
The story of the composer, Beethoven’s life is one such example. At a time when he was a successful, sought after virtuoso pianist in Vienna, living an ideal life, Beethoven struggled as he faced a long battle against his impending deafness, that left him in anguish and despair. The story is all the more remarkable because it is a battle of an individual will challenging the will of fate and prevailing over the odds in the most remarkable way. While the world thought his life was ideal, he began to withdraw from society, living in solitude and loneliness which eventually led him to even consider suicide. He once confessed, “Thanks to my art, I did not end my life.” He never gave up composing although his hearing only got worse. The years to follow actually turned to be intensely profound for him as his outer hearing increasingly deteriorated. But gradually, with his outer hearing failing, his inner hearing was continuing to grow. He continued to compose many more memorable pieces of music even as he turned completely deaf. The battle raged on but his passion for music kept him going.
Did he stop himself as he fought his inner demons? Did he give up? Did he succumb to his fate ?
The answer is NO. Beethoven never gave up despite the struggle and the despair killing him inside. And that alone made all the difference. He gave us one masterpiece after another; every piece of his life’s work, left behind for posterity to be loved and appreciated by millions.
Sharing one of my favourite pieces here, which is an expression of his inner turmoil after he finally came to terms with his deafness. Originally called the Opus 27 No. 2 C# minor sonata, it came to be popularly called the ‘Moonlight Sonata‘, after German music critic, Ludwig Rellstab wrote that the sonata reminded him of the reflected moonlight off Lake Lucerne.
It is a mellow piece that has soothed, relaxed and comforted me on many a tired evening. In fact, as a student in my college years, I was so dependent on music, particularly classical and instrumental, to help me focus and concentrate better. Years later, now I play it for my son. I am so thankful that we share a similar taste in music too, as in many other things.
If you listen carefully, it is sombre, sublime, yet hauntingly sad at the same time. The sense of mourning and loss is so evident. For someone so passionate about music, it must have been an irrevocable loss to no longer be able to hear what he wrote – this beautiful piece he wrote for the world, considered to be one of the finest pieces of composition ever, as popular today, 200 years after he is gone! Yes, life goes on.
So do limitations restrict us from working? No. Do barriers threaten us? No. Our intentions and our efforts actually outweigh our limitations, if only we set our mind to do so! Work should never stop – that’s my belief!
As I take leave, a little food for thought – today, as we begin another week of work, let us accept how privileged we are, to have our faculties in place, to have the opportunity and the space to do what we love to do; let us not think of the odds that are going against us, be it our jobs, our lives or our work. Instead, let us lead our focus onto where the possibilities lie and aim to live out our passions and accomplish our goals.
Before you leave this page, I’d request you to take some time out to listen to this beautiful piece of music, (even if you’re not a fan of Western classical music) or you could let it play in the background while you work. Once you do, please let me know how you found it. I’ll be waiting to see what you have to say.