12 Year Old Trumpeter
When I was 12 years of age, I had one of my most profound experiences of my life thus far. I had just begun to learn to play the trumpet at my college. I went to my first trumpet lesson and my teacher gave me, among other things, a single melody to play. He said to me, "Mr Royal, your homework this week is to go home and practice this melody. Next week I would like you to return and play this back to me as well as you can." Because I was so interested in music and I felt confident, I went home and quickly mastered the melody, or so I thought. Next week came and returned to my class to triumphantly play the melody back to my teacher. I was somewhat crestfallen when his response was a neutral "Very good Mr Royal", imagining instead a hearty round of applause. My teacher then said, "Now come this way." He lead me to the school hall where the school orchestra was playing. He said to me, "Now sit here and when the conductor points to you, play your melody." Intrigued and excited, I just nodded. I sat down and the piece began. As the piece unfolded and more instruments began playing, I saw that everyone had their own melody just like me. And everyone had queues just like me, and when I saw this, I thought this was the most marvellous thing. Not only did everyone have their own melody, but some brilliant person had decided when these individual melodies should play, how there were to be coordinated together. And when the individual parts play according to what this brilliant person had determined, a beautiful, stunning music emerged. I was so excited by this realisation, by the experience of this incredible fabric and weave of music unfolding around me, that, of course, I almost missed my cue. I thought this was the most marvellous, wonderful thing.
“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”
Joseph Campbell, 'The Power of Myth'