Thoughts (2020 June)

by Rakka   Tags: journal

Our CTO recently held a lunch with a few of us and suggested we all keep journals. After all, we’re living in history, in a way that actually feels like it; why not record it for your children and grandchildren, for posterity? But honestly, I feel like there’s not much for me personally. Even as some people have turbulent lives, I’ve been beyond fortunate to have a relatively normal one. Life really does go on. I’m well off enough that I’m not worrying about rent and work; I’m not so well off that I can flee to the woods and suburbs and treat this as some grand adventure.

Another thing he asked about is what we have all accomplished during this quarantine. Adults pine after free time; now don’t we have more of it than we know what to do with? In some sense, yes—I save some time on my commute, and save a little more time by trying to stop work earlier. (Not that the latter is all that successful; the flip side of being able to get up and leave work by walking two feet is that you can start work just as easily.) Many others had taken up instruments or cooking.

Admittedly, I have been staring forlornly at my violin, sitting three feet away from me, from time to time. But I feel little motivation to pick it back up. I’ve realized that what I really enjoyed was playing with others, in ensembles and orchestras, and without that, it’s just not as fun. If anything, I wish that back then, I had made more of an effort to get to know my seatmates; I became friends with some of them, but there were many people I only knew tangentially. It’s like the unnamed protagonist of The Tatami Galaxy: I was too focused on some goal, some means to an end, that I entirely missed why I came in the first place. Yes, I came to play music; but also, and foremost, I came to find a community, to find camaraderie, and somehow I forgot that.

I really loved my college ensemble; it was the right balance of things. We had lots of unusual instruments, so music got transcribed and tailored for us; we had lots of different skill levels, so we didn’t get too ambitious, but neither did we just sit back and take it easy. And of course, we got to play lots of music from anime and games and pop. I doubt I’ll find anything quite like that again.

Though, this isn’t to say that I’ve just been sitting on my hands all of 2020. I had been working on improving my Chinese and picking up Japanese, and really, I think I’ve made a good effort. I can read a basic web comic or two in Chinese without struggling too hard or having to reach for the dictionary too often; I’ve even started translating a series (slowly). And my Japanese continues to pick up; hopefully I’ll be able to start taking classes soon. I wouldn’t have imagined being able to do this while in school; back then I hated having these languages forced on me. A bit of a pity, really—and a good lesson on parenting: my parents have never known how to motivate someone or justify their actions. Their authority comes from their position and nothing more.

A little thing I’ve been happy about is that I can listen to so much more music, now that I have access to my speakers and full library 24/7. It really drives home how much I dislike headphones and earbuds, and how much I dislike the interfaces on my phone and the web. And yet what I end up doing is listening to 初音ミク on repeat. (Whoops.)

The year is only half over. Let’s see what else 2020 has in store for us and what we have to show for it.