With-holding truth

How many single parent families are there in your country? Perhaps the number depends how liberal and permissive your country is. In places where single parent families are commonplace, perhaps couples that experience breakdowns in their relationships are nonplussed about splitting up even if they have children. In countries where this is more of a social stigma, such couples would perhaps think twice about breaking up, choosing instead to stay unhappily married for their children. After all, it cannot be easy for the children. Children who grow up in single parent families experience many problems, such as each adult criticising the other in the other’s absence, being shuffled around to different surroundings because of adults having to work out access arrangements. It is also awkward having to spend time around twice as many adults if both parents have partners.

In Japan, a mother whose child had been in a single parent family (ie only with her) noted how much the emotional impact was taking on her. The father had left when the child was little and had made no form of contact ever since. The girl became more and more withdrawn as she got older and also suffered anxiety when she was in the company of her peers, not just because culturally single-parent families are frowned upon, but also because her peers knowingly and unknowingly made remarks that made her feel small. Eventually the mother took matters into her own hands in an unusual way. She approached an escort agency and hired an actor to play the part of a father for an extended period of time. Most actors are hired on a one-off basis, but this “father” continued the role to the point where the daughter actually believed that he is her father!

Is it ethical to tell such a white lie? You may debate this forever but there will always be two sides to this. In another case-study, one involving the classical musician Ludwig van Beethoven, it was believed that one of his famous works, Fur Elise, was written for a girl called Elise – yet Beethoven was also involved with another lady called Therese, who ended up with the score Fur Elise. (You can read more about this from the Piano Lessons N8 website.) One of Beethoven’s biographers blamed it on his dyslexia and bad handwriting, while you may point to it being a case of distorting the evidence to suit a belief.

Is it ever ethical to manipulate the truth? There’s a thought to ponder.

Resolutions and new perspectives

A New Year is something that is celebrated in many countries. In these places the stroke of midnight brings about a large display of rainbow colours in the skies in the form of fireworks, preceded by performances of singers and other celebrities on stages in public events. Actually, if one were to be cynical, every two acts of so there is a countdown to remind us of how close we are to midnight, and the whole build up of new year’s eve seems to point to this moment where it erupts on the first second of new year’s day. Some may question the whole purpose of it all. After all, you don’t go to bed in the evening counting down the hours and minutes before you have to wake up, do you? Does the voice in your head tell you, “Only four hours and seventeen minutes before the alarm rings,” and does your body tremble with a mixture of anxiety and excitation at the thought of the period that the alarm is going to go off expectantly? Thought not.

One of the things people like to do in the new year is to make resolutions. And just why exactly do they do that? It is because the new year is a chance to ring in new changes, to introduce positive moments in one’s life. A new year resolution may be something physical, such as to drink less, or exercise more. In fact, gyms often report that memberships and attendance increase in the period of December and January, because month-long memberships are given away as Christmas presents, and in the new year many also decide that the new change is a good motivation to do something positive for the body!

A new year may be a good time to re-examine things and look at them from different perspectives. And who knows, maybe a different viewpoint may lead to a creative solution to an existing problem, or new ideas altogether! For example, in classical music, the Alberti bass and the piano evolved, as classical music evolved when composers tried new ways of writing and instrument production improved. (You can learn more about this from the Piano Teachers Crouch End.) Our popular music of today may have still consisted of polyphonic music of the Renaissance had composers not sought to introduce fresh perspectives. Maybe the new year was a good reason to do so for some of them!

Holidays

Imagine that you have decided to go on a holiday. For many people, this is two weeks of the year, the only chance that they will get to go away. The leave, of course, is meant to be distributed over the course of the year, but if you want to have a chance of taking a week’s break and going away for an extended period, then your only option lies in accumulating it for a huge spend at a period where your workplace can afford to release you. The lull period may usually be over the summer – unless of course you work in the tourism industry, which means that is peak season. Then, having worked yourself to death over the course of the year in order to be able to accrue the leave, you are off to your sun lounger, sitting by the pool, reading your magazine and generally doing the things that you don’t normally have the time for.

Holidays are meant to be different times; changes from routine. They may not necessarily be quiet times. For example, if your job is naturally quiet in any case, such as being the stereotypical librarian, you may prefer to have some excitement in your life by going clubbing at as Ibiza. You may fancy something a bit livelier. But if you have a hectic lifestyle, doing nothing at a holiday is not wrong. Why would you cram more activity during a period of down time? It is a time of change, and if that change involves rest, then do something different, or else you will be burnt out when you return to work. After your holiday! The irony!

Throughout music history composers have often toured and gone away, not just for breaks, but also to promote their music. The time away gave them inspiration and prevented stagnant work. So the next time you consider a holiday, remember its benefits and try to disassociate from your daily life, so that you go back refreshed!

Human Emotions

What do you feel when circumstances go against you in life? Do you huff and puff and rail against the unfairness of the situation? If you do, then you are definitely not alone. Many of us experience this sort of initial reaction, which is a combination of fear and anger. Both fear and anger are heightened emotions translated into different forms. Our emotions are heightened because we lack control over our new set of circumstances. They are ones we have not prepared for and hence have no plan to refer to when things have happened. (If we have experienced them before, then our emotions are less fear and more a mixture of anger and exasperation.) Our minds go into overdrive and we end up thinking of hundreds of possible courses of action, of which only one or two are appropriate, and waste mental energy not only thinking of scenarios, but also wasting time hating ourselves.

Eventually anger settles more into acceptance and often this stage depends on time as an influential factor. When sufficient time has moved on, the anger and fear is muted and things become clearer. We become less stressed because our options are fewer, and this in a way is more helpful because we spend less time aggravating ourselves.

What can we learn from all this? The first is when you are stressed, try to ride it out. Realise that clarity comes with time. Look after yourself and rest, so you are not wasting precious energy going around in mental circles!

The range of human emotions is encapsulated by the canon of songs by George Gershwin. Some of his songs deal with love, others with sadness, some with anger, some with joy – in fact, it would be possible to find a group of songs that show the various stages one goes through! Gershwin treaded between the jazz and classical genres, establishing himself in both (you can read more about him from the Piano Lessons N19 website) and the number of piano rolls and sheet music he published is testament to the fact of how he was aware and keenly made a fortune about writing about the range of human emotion. You might even say he monetised feeling!

Daily inconvenience

Katherine Hough suffered from poor health right from in her teens. She had stomach pains, and while these might have been dismissed as part of growing up, the ill-health symptoms developed into more serious ones such as frequent fatigue, loss of hair, joint pain and other ailments which affected her during her university days.

Can you imagine having to get up and that your whole life is a bit of a struggle before you make it to the “hard” part of the day? For many disabled individuals this would not have been an uncommon scenario. Wheelchair users, for example, have to deal with mobility issues, not only within their own homes, but within the larger context of society as well.

It may be easier to equip your home to function for your needs, but what happens when you get outside? Wheelchair users may find it difficult, for example, to travel from place to place in that same way that able-bodied users do. While most of us simply get on the underground or trams and alight at our stop, wheelchair users have to plan their journey by step-free access stations, making further stops or more frequent changes simply to get to a destination via a wheelchair friendly route. And if you were a wheelchair user you would be familiar with having to look for lifts in obscure parts of buildings and other unfriendly parts of commute – like having bus passengers huff at you for delaying the journey while the ramp engages, or parents with young children being annoyed with having to give up space for you.

The pianist Robert Schumann suffered from poor health but managed to carry on with the daily inconveniences of his illness. Even when an arm injury put an end to his performing career, he managed to become a composer instead. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learnt – inconvenience only becomes a problem if you let it and perceive it to be. If you have managed it and live well with it, good for you!