Music and Life - Alan Watts
Excerpt of transcript from Learning the Human Game:
In music, though, one doesn’t make the end of the composition the point of the composition.
If that were so, the best conductors would be those who played fastest; and there would be composers who only wrote finales.
People go to concerts only to hear one crashing chord - because that’s the end.
Same way in dancing—you don’t aim at a particular spot in the room; that’s where you should arrive.
The whole point of the dancing is the dance.
Now, but we don’t see that as something brought by our education into our everyday conduct.
We’ve got a system of schooling which gives a completely different impression.
It’s all graded—and what we do is we put the child into the corridor of this grade system, with a kind of “c’mon kitty kitty kitty…”.
And yeah, you go to kindergarten, and that’s a great thing, because when you finish that, you’ll get into first grade.
And then c’mon, first grade leads to second grade, and so on…
And then you get out of grade school you go to high school—and it’s revving up, the thing is coming…
Then you’re going to go to college, and by jove then you get into graduate school, and when you’re through with graduate school, you’ll go out to join the world.
And then you get into some racket where you’re selling insurance. And they’ve got that quota to make. And you’re going to make that.
And all the time, this thing is coming, it’s coming, it’s coming—that great thing, the success you’re working for.
Then when you wake up one day about forty years old, you say “My God! I’ve arrived! I’m there!”
And you don’t feel very different from what you always felt.
And there's a slight letdown, because you feel there's a hoax.
And there was a hoax.
A dreadful hoax.
They made you miss everything. By expectation.
Look at the people who live to retire, and put those savings away.
And then when they’re sixty-five, and they don’t have any energy left, they’re more or less impotent, they go and rot in an old people’s “senior citizens” community.
Because we’ve simply cheated ourselves, the whole way down the line.
We thought of life by analogy was a journey, was a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at the end.
And the thing was to get to that end.
Success, or whatever it is, or maybe heaven after you’re dead.
But we missed the point the whole way along.
It was a musical thing, and you were supposed to sing, or to dance, while the music was being played.