The same thing always happens when I go to the beach.  I have a panic attack.  I know at some point I’m going to have to get into the ocean. 

 

It didn’t bother me when I was a kid, but somewhere along the line I learned to hate, and then to actually fear jumping into a cold body of water.  Nevertheless I always manage to do it before the end of the trip.  There are three ways I go about it.

I am very pleased to announce that Royal Fireworks Press has contracted with me to publish all of my non-fiction books currently in print, and is interested in producing other books that I have currently in progress. I have been negotiating the arrangement for several months and am very confident that the partnership will be a fruitful one.  What does this mean for my readers?

 My favorite line by Billy Joel is from his song “Second Wind”: You're not the only one who's made mistakes, but they’re the only things that you can truly call your own.  It seems like a strange thing.  Learn from mistakes, okay, but call them your own?

 

I remember that as early as 3 years old I was afraid of going down a big slide in New York’s Central Park.  No matter how my mom assured me I was going to be fine, I wouldn’t try it.  My fear about the uncertainty of the outcome of sliding was too potent, and I didn’t want to experience that feeling.

 

My intolerance for any sensation connected with uncertainty, pleasure as well as anxiety, has proved a mixed blessing. 

Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, Born to Run, changed the way I think about him, and myself too.  There are a lot of people I’ve wanted to be over my life:  Bernstein, Tolkein, Billy Joel.  Bruce Springsteen was the last person I wanted to be.

 

 

I’ve dealt with a lot of little tragedies.

 

First of all, I regret that my blog post hasn't been as regular lately.  I have been preoccupied with a great many new changes in my professional life.  Some of them I am unable to discuss yet, and others are still in the planning stages.

I’m a big fan of going slow, taking the time to learn and understand something without the stress of having to do it in real time.  I held to this strategy for years, thinking that the stress of actual situations was more harmful than helpful.  Lately I’ve come to decide that there’s more to the story than going slow.

One of the great joys of my life is that I can read an orchestral score.  Orchestration for me is one of the three or four huge things I’d like to master before I die (the others include writing poetry, playing a jazz solo, and perhaps one or two others thing that seem so unlikely they’re not worth mentioning today).  Yet after 30 years of wrestling with the subject, I can confidently say I have only a general understanding of it. 

 

I had an insight about that today that I thought was worth sharing. 

Last week This American Life rebroadcast an episode in which a number of kids from a poor New York public school went to visit a rich private school.  The reactions of some of the kids highlighted a little-discussed effect of poverty.  Even when these kids were given opportunities to escape their world, they were brought down by a mindset that told them that they did not “deserve” good things.

I have experienced the sense of “don’t deserve.”  But with me it was about talent, especially on the piano.  That’s why I’m writing about it here.

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