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When I lived in San Diego (which was until about 3 months ago!) I was attending a meditation group at a Zen Center there. Every month, the members of the center were asked to reflect on one of 10 precepts, or rules of personal conduct, which included such unimpeachable directions as “not leading a harmful life nor encouraging others to do so, ” and “not elevating myself and blaming others.” Good stuff.
I’m still on their email list, and today I got a message identifying the precept for this month:
Not being stingy. I will use all of the ingredients of my life. I will not foster a mind of poverty in myself or others.
“I will use all of the ingredients of my life” — what a wonderful instruction! As the shop steward of the American Federation of Time Wasters Local 47, it gave me much food for thought. The idea that not fulfilling your potential is an act of stinginess toward the people in your life can really transform your worldview. It has very much transformed mine over the course of the past 18 days! 🙂
I started wondering what a music of generosity would sound like. It’s tricky to try to translate concepts from words to music in any kind of direct or literal way — there is a danger of the music sounding prosaic or cliché, or as my undergrad composition teacher Andrew Imbrie used to say, “Mickey Mouse-y.” I thought of writing a piece that included all of the ingredients of my life… but, well, that’ll take more than one day (I should hope!).
I ended up writing something that I think just sounds very happy. And as for the generosity part, it turned out that one piano wasn’t enough. I started writing for two pianos, then two players on each piano — so that’s a total of 2 pianos, 4 players, 8 hands (‘course, all 8 hands are mine, through the magic of overdubbing!). It’s like a group hug! 😉
Click play to listen:[audio:http://missmusicnerd.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/audio/OnNotBeingStingy.mp3|titles=On Not Being Stingy]
Thanks for listening!