Saturday, December 02, 2006

Inspiring Starry Starry Night

We don't have Cable TV. It's not a matter of affordability, but rather of necessity. With the three national TV stations (ABC, CBS, and NBC), FOX, two PBS stations plus a couple of local stations, and what with limited time on our hand tempered with the belief that couch potatoes have no place in our home, we are good to go with just a one-time purchase of a $12 TV-top RCA antenna as afar as TV viewing is concerned.

For an occasional movie, there's always BlockBuster Video just around the corner. And for current news, there is always Internet. And yes, we do have a Cable broadband connection for that, and a 4-way router to boot. So when our D from Oregon and S from UF join us for the holidays, the router is fully deployed: 1 desktop and 3 laptops.

We frequently watch the BBC Newscast on the PBS Station (Channel 3), just to gain an international flavor on global development since US newscasts are notoriously US-centric, both in terms of coverage and viewpoints.

Occasionally, we also watch the travelogues and sermons and motivational talks by pastor Joel Osteen and Dr. Wayne Dyer on the WUSF station (Channel 16), but from a faith-neutral perspective.

So this morning at about 9.10 am, I was watching a motivational talk on inspiration by Dr. Dyer on WUSF, his usual debonair self in a casual collared black T-shirt. I must admit that this is the very first time that I really listen to him, the previous encounters being short-lived punctuated with loaded terms like intentions and spirituality that hardly registered in my consciousness.

I was so absorbed in what he said, and captivated by his down-to-earth story-telling style that I started making notes. Here I would like to share with you some of the excerpts from my note-taking, honed by years of listening and writing at the same time while attending lectures in Grad school. A disclaimer of sort: apparently I trusted my memory too much and could only recall some of Dr. Dyer's talk in spirit, despite my notes. So I have to paraphrase but I think the gist is not lost in the "translation".

The first item has to do with the concept of relativity expounded by Albert Einstein, who by the way is a great philosopher as well in addition to being a scientific genius. Dr. Dyer was at that time invited to talk at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Yeshiva University in NY.

"In a bowl of soup, this is a lot of hair," Dr. Dyer said while pointing to his hair. You can refer to a picture of Dr. Dyer to the right taken from his website to have a better grasp of his way of explaining relativity. Get it? It's all relative.

That reminded me of a Japanese movie I watched a long time ago, like when I was in middle school, or its equivalent. I forgot the name but it was a comedy centering around the chemistry between a male and a female (played by the ever popular Sayuri Yoshinaka) at first encounter, exemplifying the essence of love at first sight.

What I remember from the movie nearly 40 years ago is relativity at work by way of the company a man finds himself in. In the company of a beautiful woman, an hour seems like a minute. On the other hand, sitting next to a hot stove for a minute is like an hour-long ordeal. Again, it's all relative. But I digress.

Then he cited a dream by Lao Tse, the famous Chinese philosopher who wrote the seminal Tao De Ching. In the dream, Lao Tse dreamed that he had become a butterfly. After he woke up, he was himself again. So, was he then a butterfly which dreamed that it had become a man? While it's relative, which one is reality? I admit this is too deep for me bordering on the metaphysical.

So much for relativity. Then he quoted Dr. Abraham Maslow, the progenitor of the famous pyramid of the hierarchy of human needs:

"What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself."

So if you think you have no talent, no background, or no luck, your talent, your background, and your luck, if any, will likely stay latent, untapped. You have to start believing in yourself.

Then there is EGO, which Dr. Dyer defines as Edged God Out. So the less one has, EGO I mean, the more we will view ourselves as "spiritual beings having a human existence, instead of being human beings having a spiritual experience", in the words of Dr. Dyer.

Moving on, Dr. Dyer told a story about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The last name probably rings a bell, and yes, he is that maestro of a composer. He was approached by a young man once, asking, rather earnestly, "How do you compose a symphony?"

"You are still young. You can start by writing a minuet," replied the Master.
[I must admit I've not the slightest inkling of what a minuet is. So I looked up once (get it,, and note that it's a music written for a dance that is small and dainty, though not in so many words. So in my mind, in terms of word simile: giant : midget = symphony: minuet.]

"But you did it when you were nine years old," the young man argued.

"Yes, I did. But I did not have to ask anyone."

Apparently, the music came to Mozart like lively dreams presented to him as invented and completed. Hmmm, some of us are born child prodigies, while some are not. But if you keep working at it (minuets), you can't be far (symphony).

I can recall two others quotes:

"Nothing happens until something moves." Albert Einstein
[In other words, you can't be productive just by sitting around.]

"You can only convert your enemy to friend through love." Martin Luther King Jr.
[Knock, knock, anybody listening?]

I reserve the best part, at least in my mind, to the last. This time Dr. Dyer connected two personalities of two different eras in one breath. First, the famous Dutch painter, Vincent van Gogh, born in 1853, and killed himself while holding a gun to his heart with one hand and a paint brush in another at the age of 37.

Then there is the contemporary American musician, Don McLean, of the American Pie and Vincent fame. The song, Vincent, was very popular in the 1970s, and I always managed to hum the first few words of the lyrics, Starry Starry Night ..., whenever it was played.

But until today, I did not see or know the connection between the two. Thanks to Dr. Dyer, I do now. And then only the full extent of the inspiring lyrics hit me. After reading of the tragic end to van Gogh's life, Don McLean wrote Vincent in 1971, according to his website.

If you, like me, do not pay attention to the lyrics of a song, the catchy ones don't count, here's one instance that you should, courtesy of, and sung beautifully by Skye Dyer, Dr. Dyer's daughter, during his talk. Better still, hum along, Starry Starry Night ...


Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and gray
Look out on a summer's day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul
Shadows on the hills
Sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
In colors on the snowy linen land

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they'll listen now

Starry, Starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frameless heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world and can't forget
Like the strangers that you've met
The ragged men in ragged clothes
The silver thorn, a bloody rose
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow

Now I think I know
What you tried to say, to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they're not listening still
Perhaps they never will

For they could not love you
But still, your love was true
And when no hope was left inside
On that starry, starry night
You took your life as lovers often do
But I could've told you, Vincent
This world was never meant for one
As beautiful as you


CY said...

Like you guys, we have no cable; unlike you guys, though, it is a matter of finances. Internet itself is already $56!!! @_@ Thanks to Dan's bunny ears (antenna), we have plenty to watch; plus, the only tv show I absolutely have to watch is Heroes, and even then it's on hiatus until next month. Also, I have Netflix, which has a much larger selection of movies (including Chinese movies with Sammi Cheng!) than a Blockbuster would in their store.

It's very interesting to see the connection between that song and Mozart. I don't believe I know what that song is, although if I heard it I might recognize it.

Say Lee said...

BlockBuster Video has also introduced the online deal at a much cheaper rate. Currently we are paying about $21 (plus tax) for the in-store version but will consider switching to the online one (I think is about $10) next year.

We still keep to it as it is within walking distance and also we like to browse the titles, and talk to the shop guys too.