Sunday, March 11, 2007
Lazy Is As Lazy Does
I have a thing about Laziness. It's the same attitude I have toward other human conditions like say, stupidity or addiction. To put it into Twelve step terms, I can love the afflicted person, but I hate the condition. I'm about to go off on a tangent here so if you don't want to read my version of self-evident truth, you are excused to turn on the TV and fill the void with bullshit.Alright then, here is my rant on laziness. My theory rests squarely on the foundational fact that water seeks a level at which it will be at rest. Humans are seventy percent water. Physically we are, by definition, sedentary organisms. By using our minds, we can counteract our physical condition and act or react to our circumstances as required in order to improve the situation and once again find a spot where we can lay at rest. In other words, we do our best work in emergency situations.Say that you are watching a show on TV. You're comfortable, there is a cold beer within reach, a bag of Chee-tos on your lap and a package of Ho-Hos next to you for dessert. You have no intention of moving when suddenly your ass bursts into flames! The emergency causes you to react and suddenly you become inventive. You discover by intuition that with a minimum of effort the flames can be extinguished with your beer. And as a thinking being, you will file this episode away under "emergency uses for beer."If you think that the world of science is laboring away to discover new ways to make your life easy, stop kidding yourself. The vast majority of our daily conveniences were first developed as emergency measures. From table salt to video games, advancement in technology has been driven by two goals. 1. How to keep from getting killed so as to have the time to sit in front of the TV with beer, Chee-tos and cookies, and 2. How to kill everyone who is trying to disturb us from sitting in front of the TV with beer, Chee-tos and cookies. That's it in a nutshell.The Space program was not developed to provide amusing video clips of astronauts eating blobs of floating food paste. It was developed for the same reason that the armed fortress was developed, to gain and hold the high ground against the enemy. As time passes and enemies become harder to invent, the more harmless technology of these developments filters down to the general population in the form of entertainment trinkets similar to the bucket full of shiny crap that ransomed the island of Manhattan from the original inhabitants.As a musician, I have spent a lifetime using things that record and store the events that in ancient times would have existed only in the memory of those present at the time of performance. Magnetic tape, compact discs, floppy discs, memory chips, hard drives and all of the associated amplification and processing equipment were originally invented and developed for military use. Our table salt was originally used not to make popcorn taste better, but to preserve food so it could be transported over long distances to feed the armies while on their mission to kill everyone who was perceived as a threat to the right of the people to sit in front of the TV.Pete, What the fuck are you talking about, you may well ask. Here is the thing. Being good at something, being good at anything requires hard work and practice. I accept that hard work and practice go against the grain of our natural disposition. Again, we only act decisively when faced with an emergency situation. So, in order to work hard and practice, we must invent a state of emergency. We must develop a sense of fear...fear of failure, fear of losing everything. Yes, almost any basketball player can make a freethrow...sometimes. Almost any teenaged guitar rod can play a blues lick convincingly...once or twice. Almost any American Idol hopeful can sing a high note...occasionally. But the player with a freethrow percentage in the eighties, B.B. King and the diva of the Met all have this in common. They worked hard and practiced as if their very lives were held in the balance. They developed their talent in a state of emergency. Their pain of failure was as real as if they were sitting in front of the TV and suddenly their ass burst into flames.Occasionally, I may have a student ask me, "How much should I practice?" The mere asking of the question indicates a lack of fear and an inability to invent the state of emergency required for whatever success might lie ahead. To that student I say, "Practice as much as you think is necessary." But under my breath I say to myself, "Go get yourself a beer, some Chee-tos and cookies and park yourself in front of the TV. And when your lazy ass bursts into flames, you may be able to answer that dumb-ass question for yourself."Declare a state of emergency...practice and work hard you lazy bastards!