Posts tagged with "goals"

deconstructing songs

I’ve been decon­struct­ing songs, try­ing to fig­ure out what mag­i­cal com­bi­na­tion of pitches and tim­bres and rhythms can cre­ate such an intense response in my body. Every song is a puz­zle when you try to fit the com­po­si­tion into what a per­son can do with­out stu­dio edit­ing or a band.

On my quest to unlock such a puz­zle, I dis­cov­ered Final Fantasy per­form­ing a Bloc Party cover of This Modern Love, what is now my favourite song of all time1, hav­ing dethroned Blonde Redhead’s Elephant Woman of the hon­our it held for many years. It strips me bare by lay­ers and lay­ers, and even though the lyrics found rel­e­vance in my life before I decided that dis­tance would keep me sane, it’s only in recent months that it’s gone from being a song I never skip to a song I always play.

To be able to see how Owen Pallett repro­duces it with only a vio­lin, a loop pedal, and his char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally frail voice is a par­tic­u­lar treat. Not only because he can draw the same inten­sity in me as in the orig­i­nal ver­sion, but because you can see how it’s done; what part he keeps to present the lis­tener with the essence of the song, what he’s changed to fit the tools he uses, and even where he takes his breaths. It’s like find­ing an ele­gant solu­tion for a puz­zle that has per­plexed you for years.

But I’ve yet to sit down and attempt any seri­ous cov­ers of my own cause I’m still wait­ing for my musi­cal knowl­edge and gui­tar abil­ity to catch up with what I want to accom­plish. I’ve been learn­ing clas­si­cal pieces for a bet­ter foun­da­tion, and in that pur­suit I came across this par­tic­u­lar ver­sion of La Catedral.

I enjoy clas­si­cal music (though I’m really picky) cause it can evoke a spe­cific emo­tion in me, but most pieces cater to only one emo­tion at a time, or there’s a lot of devel­op­ment before the part I really like. La Catedral, on the other hand, has it all, from sor­row to ela­tion, and every bit of it is bliss. I’m con­vinced that this is how the old Paraguayan gui­tarists rocked out with their cocks out, and it amazes me how some­one could write such heavy emo­tion when there were no metal idols, no amp dis­tor­tion, no scream­ing back then.

I’d say that for any­one to fully under­stand me, they’d have to under­stand this song too. It rep­re­sents every­thing I love about music and emo­tion and sex, cause it’s all in this song, and only Denis Azabagić plays it the way it was meant to be played2. When watch­ing this for the first time, I remem­ber think­ing that I would make love to this man, this man who looks like some guy’s uncle, because he plays like he’s touch­ing every nerve of my heart.

I love the way he moves with his gui­tar, the way he cra­dles the body, the way he purses his lips or widens his eyes with every swelling of pas­sion. To be able to play like him is is exactly why I started tak­ing up gui­tar; I want to feel as good as those who lose them­selves to the music, and learn­ing this piece has become another thing I hope to do before I die.

  1. As a per­son who lis­tens to almost any genre but is still obses­sively selec­tive with music, say­ing that I have a sin­gle favourite song is a big deal. []
  2. I never liked this song until I heard him per­form it, the last 45 sec­onds in par­tic­u­lar, with his orgas­mic fin­ish. Every other clas­si­cal gui­tarist uses pauses that break up the flow of what are sup­posed to be relent­less six­teenth notes, to the point where it feels like the entire song is ruined. []

Awakening: The Reborn Dreamer

I wake up every day look­ing at Death, and you know what? He ain’t half bad.

—Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp

Its not until you lose every­thing that you are free to do anything.

—Tyler Durden, Fight Club

I used to take pride in the fact that I felt like I could die sat­is­fied any day. I was at a place in my life where I couldn’t ask for more, and there was a tremen­dous sense of over­all sat­is­fac­tion. I had every­thing that I deserved. After that, all I had left to expe­ri­ence, every fall morn­ing caught or tear shed, was a bonus. Of course, the clos­est I had ever come to death was a minor case of pneu­moth­o­rax, which I imag­ine is as fatal as pinch­ing one’s skin between two Lego pieces while build­ing the Death Star, so this feel­ing was never actu­ally put to the test. I’m sure I’d feel dif­fer­ently if I ever came fright­en­ingly close to the end of my life, although just how much remains a mystery.

Perhaps this grew from a cogent sense of frailty, per­pet­u­ated by all the sto­ries of freak acci­dents echoed through­out the media. The stu­dent who impaled his heart on a num­ber 2 pen­cil while try­ing to catch a foot­ball in the mid­dle of class. The gen­eral who drowned in a pool of his own blood from a nose­bleed on his wed­ding night. Even the pres­i­dent of the United States almost choked to death on a pret­zel. To dis­tance myself was the only way I could deal with it.

The prob­lem, I’ve only recently dis­cov­ered, was that this left me alien­ated and unat­tached. I have no dreams, noth­ing to live for. Not even a goal to work towards. During high-school, the goal was to get into a uni­ver­sity. After uni­ver­sity, the goal was to get a ful­fill­ing job. After the job was the house. Now that I own a house, it feels like the rest of my life has been laid out in front of me. No risks, no sur­prises. I appre­ci­ate every­thing that I’ve been given, but it feels like it’s been a lit­tle too easy. Even my most sig­nif­i­cant goal was rather sud­denly accom­plished this year. As Logan Pearsall Smith once wrote in his book Afterthoughts, “How many of our day­dreams would darken into night­mares if there seemed any dan­ger of their com­ing true!”. A simul­ta­ne­ous ful­fill­ment and dissatisfaction.

I pre­sented this prob­lem to Pat, and from his infi­nite wis­dom (at 24, no less) I real­ized that one should never live for what might hap­pen. Otherwise, a per­son would go crazy. Of course, to truly live this way, it doesn’t hurt to be a bit of a fatal­ist. Having this belief means that one can only do the best that they can, and to go means that it was meant to be.

For now, I’ve been keep­ing myself occu­pied, until I can fig­ure out what I want in the last rest of my life. Blessed is the per­son who is too busy to worry in the day­time and too sleepy to worry at night. It’s only now that I’ve dis­cov­ered that I need a few dreams to survive.

And I can only hope to never reach them.

The Awakening Series

  1. Introduction
  2. Cause
  3. The Reborn Dreamer


Thumbnail: Empty seats at Social
Thumbnail: Social menu and card
Thumbnail: Tableware

A few years ago, while we were still liv­ing together, Pita and I passed by a restau­rant called Social that was along the mar­ket. We looked in at the ele­gant, min­i­mal atmos­phere, the nicely dressed peo­ple, and the intri­cate dishes that were being served to them. Looking at the menu posted out­side, and not­ing the lack of dec­i­mals in the pric­ing (every­thing was in flat dol­lars), it was mutu­ally agreed that going there to dine with­out a rea­son to cel­e­brate was out of our bud­get. Just walk­ing inside was some­thing that we would have to earn, and we made an agree­ment. For the term, if I could man­age all As (any­thing from an A– to an A+, or a GPA of over 8.0) and if he could win his next com­pe­ti­tion (for both stan­dard and Latin ball­room danc­ing) than we would walk in one day and order any­thing we wanted.

The term came and passed, and in the end I only man­aged a bunch of measly grades, while he got bronze at the com­pe­ti­tion. We never spoke of it again.

Until this week. After trav­el­ing abroad for more than a year and work­ing in his native coun­try, Pita came back to Canada to set­tle down. He decided to live the rest of his life in Montreal, but he was able to visit for the week­end. We agreed on lunch at Social, not need­ing any jus­ti­fi­ca­tion between each other. After all, we grad­u­ated, found jobs, started to set­tle down. We hadn’t seen each other in over a year.

He had the duck, I had the lamb. Both were unbe­liev­ably suc­cu­lent, ten­der, and came with fresh sal­ads in a light dress­ing, along with super-thin fries. Even though we weren’t dressed as well as what some would call the “reg­u­lar” patrons, we were served well and with respect, some­thing can’t be said about all the restau­rants I’ve been to. To be hon­est, I’ve never been given a choice of water (reg­u­lar, min­eral, soda, or sparkling, the man told us). I paid this time, and Pita agreed to treat me when I visit him in Montreal.


It’s dif­fi­cult for me to imag­ine being done school, that I can start liv­ing as a free per­son. I’ve been in school for so long that I begin to expect another term in the near future. Yet I’m done (as long as I didn’t fail any­thing) and I have a great deal of options. But what would I really want to do with my life? A uni­ver­sity diploma will only help me get a tiny part of what I want to achieve.

Odd that I live so day-to-day, yet have a few goals planned for decades in advance. Even if I haven’t achieved a sin­gle goal by the time I die, I’ll feel decently sat­is­fied. I enjoy being able to appre­ci­ate every­thing I do each day. A great deal of think­ing needs to be done before I keep going. And while the future seems uncer­tain, while the world seems to be turned upside down, I feel comforted.

It’s under­stand­ing and real­iza­tion that bind my world together, that bring mean­ing to any­thing I do.