contentment versus complacency

Restlessness isn’t a virtue. Ask anyone who has a restless nature and they will tell you that this drive from within exacts a price. On the other hand, complacency (what I call the “chew your cud factor”) isn’t so great either.

Constantly looking at how things work, at how they can be made to work better, takes a certain kind of disposition. A mind that is always probing, always seeking the next new or better thing is also one that doesn’t rest easily, doesn’t sit kindly with “status quo” and isn’t ever going to take things at face value for long. I think of Thomas Edison, with the proverbial story of his 10,000 tries to get the light bulb to work. Talk about dogged determination! Talk about changing things when he finally succeeded!!!

I don’t quite understand why it is that some people don’t peer into the future to see where things are going to go, or where they at least might be, but I have discovered that it is a rather rare attitude. I don’t mean just generally, “where will my portfolio be in five years?”, but specifically, “where will my own life be in five years?” and “where would I like it to go”? How about “where is my profession going in 5 years, or 10, or more?” How about “what is going on now in the world that might have an effect on me, my profession, or life down the road?” (Think how different things would be globally if we had listened to the folks who warned about the warming trend 20 years ago! Yes, they were there, but no one took them seriously).

I’m also surprised that most people either don’t care much or don’t believe that caring matters except about what is absolutely necessary to survive. Certainly that is an easy attitude to have in a society that often seems to run itself any which way, but it is a sad and sorry way to live. Caring about things, caring about people is what makes life worth living. Passionate caring about things is what causes them to manifest and to change. No person in history who every accomplished anything did so because he or she was complacent. The people who just want to get by are not the movers and shakers of the world. Maybe that’s why things do seem to be stuck. Not enough people care to be movers and shakers (although there seems to be an endless supply of people who would like to kill each other) out there in the world.

Of course, if you come along and start moving and shaking a bunch of cows chewing their cud, they will moo loudly at you and maybe even send a bull to chase you away. This may not have been what you had in mind when you thought that those bossies could find better grass in the next pasture (naive you). You found out, though. The moo-ers could be pretty unwilling.

What is all this about? Am I planning to become a dairy farmer? No. I just returned from the Voice Foundation Symposium: Care of the Professional Voice #37, where people from all over the USA and many foreign countries get together to see what the next new thing is about the voice. It’s so much fun. All that research and all those restless minds. I am with my tribe. This year, particularly, was a great one, with many friends presenting and lots of meetings happening to plan for the immediate future and the distant future, too. Oh how I love probing those great minds that are in the forefront of science and medicine. Oh how I wish the singing teachers could be the same. Presenting papers on how effectively or not their teaching was.

I keep hoping the profession, my profession, might change its national conferences (not called conventions any more (?)). I want to see “Customer Service” panels. I want to attend “working as a singer in the real world” panels. I want to go to a workshop that is called “how to teach without using one single word of voice teacher jargon”. HA! Fat-so chance-o.

The Voice Foundation makes the doctors talk in panels about surgeries, plus and minus. It makes the scientists explain what they were looking for. It makes the speech pathologists look at the efficacy of their treatment protocols. The singing teachers pull up the rear once in a while, but not too often. This year, though, our CCM papers gained ground, and most of them were the real deal with hard core data. YES!

If you are reading this, and you don’t attend The Symposium every year for several days, you must do so! Care enough to come, hang out, learn from other disciplines, and other people in other places. Care enough to find the money and the time. Care enough to travel. CARE. We have a great time. There are no cud chewers there.

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