Seasonal depression is a royal pain.  We’re supposed to be happy in all this darkness, and that somehow makes it worse.  As I’ve wrestled with my own doom-and-gloom demons these last couple of weeks, I’ve remembered three things that help me fight the good fight.


When young people get married, I think many of them choose their partners based on the idea that they’ve found someone they want to spend the rest of their lives with.  And that’s how they see their lives: as one thing, one big thing, that may have ups and downs but will always be essentially what they’re living now.  When old people get married, or remarried, they have a different idea.


As a creator I’ve always found it perplexing that I can create quality works of art and yet fail to get any attention from them.  If my song is great, shouldn’t it change the world?  What’s Bruce Springsteen got that I haven’t got?

I’ve spent the last thirty years learning how to write for the orchestra.  Considering that I’m probably never going to hear any of my orchestral pieces performed, it seems pointless to keep studying.  But it just taught me a surprising lesson.

Three Lessons Learned on Ice


The last time I went ice-skating I must have been 16 years old.  I never liked it, was never good at it.  I wasn’t eager to go when my boys asked me to take them on Saturday.


It was either that or watch them jump around at Sky Zone 45 minutes away, so I bit the bullet.  We drove down to Atlantic Station.  I got skates, put them on, and stumbled onto the ice.


The experience taught me three things.

My life now is better than it’s ever been.  Family, professional, personal.  For the first time in my life that I can remember, I can honestly say I’m happy.


It scares me.

One of the saddest facts of my life is that I do not look as cool as I feel.  I generally believe (on my good days) that I am incredibly charismatic.  Yet it’s been my experience that people who don’t know me tend to think I’m fairly ordinary.


Of course, once I do my thing folks tend to come around.  Doing solid, reliable work is the main reason.  Beyond that, the most important thing seems to be eye contact.


At some point in the last few centuries, some of us got this idea in our heads that music should be worshipped.  We started by worshipping musicians, especially composers like Handel, the first composer to be famous for being famous (he has remained famous because he’s great, by the way).  Then, because music notation improved, we began to worship pieces like Beethoven’s late String Quartets.


As the recording industry developed, we even started worshipping performances: legendary captured events like Robert Johnson’s first blues recordings, Duke Ellington’s performance at the Newport Festival, and then manufactured performances done with the help of the studio, from “Stairway to Heaven” to Glenn Gould’s wonderful Frankenstein-monster recordings.  A cappella choral, popular, “ethnic” music that used to be seen as “not serious” began to be worshipped too.  Is all of this okay?

I just returned from Jerusalem where I gave a presentation on music and math notation.  One of the things I presented was how we understand music by relating the moment we are in to moments that came before, and moments that are yet to come.  In this sense, music is a kind of four-dimensional object which moves us into imaginary spaces.


It’s somehow appropriate that I was asked to present this topic in Israel, where I have never been before, never thought I’d see, but have always been expected as a Jew to someday go. 

I get tired of solving problems.  I try to avoid them.  I try to avoid getting into them at all.


That may actually not be the best strategy.

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