I am a student of life.
I am a high school graduate, but I never went to college. I have made an attempt to never stop learning. Equally important, I believe, is to never hold on too tightly to what you think you know about people, life, religion or any other facet of life. Experience has a way of changing opinions and beliefs over time. Columbus and people of his time literally thought the world was flat! That’s one reason why I cringe when I see very young people covering themselves with tattoos. You don’t even know who you are yet! Give it some time. I know having “Straight Edge” emblazoned across your chest seems like a great idea at 18 or 19 years old. But you might want to have a beer in the decades that follow.
Yesterday at my school (I manage a rock music school) I made a comment about sitar’s and “Middle Eastern music” and was quickly schooled by two of my instructors (both in their early 20’s and of Egyptian descent) about how I’m probably talking about an oud because sitar’s are from India (a completely different geographic region). See what I could have learned in a ethnomusicology class?! Hey, it only took me 45 years to learn about sitar’s, oud’s and raga’s (not just a word in a line from a Clash song, incidentally)! Fun!
Am I going to go out and buy the entire Ravi Shankar discography (did you know Ravi was Nora Jones’ father?) today? Pretty unlikely. I actually think I prefer the sound of an oud over a sitar (now that I know the difference). That’s not really the point. Knowledge is power. Also, knowing things about many subjects (and cultures) helps you to better relate to others and to be a better, fuller and more complete human.
I love in the movie “Grosse Pointe Blank” when hit man for hire, Martin Blank’s (played by John Cusack) girlfriend Debi accuses him of being a “psycho” and he responds by saying “don’t rush to judgment on something like that until all the facts are in.”
I think that’s a great philosophy to follow while navigating the age of internet hoaxes and public shaming via social media. Do some research. Ask around. Be willing to learn from anybody about anything. Never stop learning.
Finally, I leave you with something I thought we’d never see, an oud (on the left) and a sitar (on the right) together in the same room! :)