Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ayn Rand and Schumann

Persistent showers this morning cooled my weekly long run. By mile 10 I felt like a dishrag and decided to throw in the towel. Running shoes lose 40 percent of their bounce when soggy and so, it seemed, did the balls of my feet. I wasn't complaining, being grateful for the rain's coaxing of winter wheat sprouts, next year's bread. Then the rain stopped and, feeling much warmer, I kept on to mile 17.

Meanwhile I remembered Atlas Shrugged. Perhaps I owe an apology to Ayn Rand. When I named this blog I had forgotten her refrain, "Who is John Galt?"

I read Ayn Rand's novels 35 years ago while attending a Mennonite college. Her "me-first" capitalism appealed to me not because I believed in it but rather because it contrasted so sharply with the service-to-others philosophy of the Mennonites. Here was another viewpoint, a writer who boldly laid out what many of us realize but may be embarrassed to admit -- that "I" am the most important person. Nice and altruistic you may be, but get sick and try to think of others when your throat hurts and you can't keep dinner down. Consider the announcement that someone else got the promotion you expected. Was that the day you ran to volunteer at the hospital? Even Mother Teresa, in her posthumously published diaries, "Come Be My Light," appears to have been upset at times because Jesus did not reappear to her. Miserable probably begins with "mi" for good reason.

My long run finished, I drove 4 miles to our cabin to practice piano. I've put myself on a daily 3-hour practice schedule. Yes, I could be writing, but a month ago the conductor of our community orchestra invited me to play the first movement of Schumann's Piano Concerto in A Minor on February 20. Fortunately, he didn't ask me to play the other two movements.

I couldn't say no. I don't often get a chance to play with an orchestra. Have you ever wondered about the truth of program bios? If Placido Domingo listed everything he has done, it would have to be on microfiche (I know, it's an ancient term). My music bio could barely complete a sentence (think "Jesus wept").

By the way, Virginia was an opera singer. More about her later.

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