• J. W. Barlament

Living a Dynamic Life

I feel like life is too often lived flatly. It’s as if God, bored of all our antics, has stopped trying to make our lives anything more than barely bearable. I can imagine him, a great bearded man, sitting atop his fluffy clouds somewhere beyond the stars. He sits at a grand piano, his eyes sunken and his face devoid of feeling. He is performing the symphony of existence, but no matter how ethereal or brooding it gets; how rapid or plodding; how intricate or simplistic; it all sounds the same, for he plays without dynamics.

That’s how everybody seems to feel. Our lives are all so boring and unengaging. We wake up with the same apathy that we go to sleep with. Never do we get swept up in grandiosity or get crushed when the rolling waves of life inevitably crash down upon us. We just shrug and slug through it without a drop of interest. We’re marvelous men and wondrous women; not a bunch of zombies who simply live to consume. So why can’t we act like it? Why can’t we shake off our apathy and make something of our lives?

It is because we let our lives lack dynamics. Everybody seems grey. Even when the skies are a shimmering blue or an inky black, we still seem grey. Even when gorgeous flowers of all colors spring up in the fields or monstrous fires bathe the landscapes in orange, we still seem grey. Nothing affects us. Nothing sweeps us off of our feet and leaves us captivated by the moment. We live in a society that praises uncaringness and scolds emotion – where we dull our senses and medicate our minds in our unending attempts to fit in. To feel is a hindrance in an unfeeling world. But since when was it advisable to listen to society?

The solution is to introduce – or rather, reintroduce – dynamics into our lives. Modernity demands we all go through our lives unaffected by its countless highs and lows. Musicians will know this sort of incessant normalcy as mezzo-piano or mezzo-forte – only a little soft or a little loud, and never completely committed to one or the other. In other words, modernity demands us to always be average. To hell with modernity, though, and to hell with its demands. None of us want to live this way. But in order to escape this greyscale prison of ours, we must first understand the ground this prison stands on.

Dynamics go from piano (soft) to mezzo-piano (somewhat soft) to mezzo-forte (somewhat loud) to forte (loud). Occasionally, it even dips down to pianissimo (really soft), shoots up to fortissimo (really loud), or even more extreme highs and lows. These dynamic differences are what give music its listenability – its foreboding, its buildup, its excitement, and so much more. Would you want to listen if your music never shot up or died down? And would you want to live if you could only nod along and stare ahead as your precious time flashed before you?

Don’t let yourself be beaten into submission. Don’t let your life be one of stoic boredom. If you feel sad, don’t force yourself to look okay. If you feel elated, don’t force yourself to look okay. If you feel anxious, stressed, excited, introspective, at ease, in pain, or any number of other emotions, don’t force yourself to be anything else. Own what you are. Ride the highs and learn from the lows. Otherwise, you might just waste the life that you’ve been gifted. And, above all else, remember that without dynamics, even the most interesting piece grows monotonous, and with dynamics, even the most monotonous piece grows interesting.

All of life – all of existence, even – can be seen as one great symphony. Your own part to play in this ever-unwinding symphony may be great or tiny; complex or simplistic; traditional or revolutionary. No matter what the notes laid out for you may be, though, you always have the power to play them with the most superb and unforgettable dynamics.