There is a running joke in my family that if I were a composer, I’d be Mozart. Even as an inside joke, there isn’t actually anything funny about it but we laugh like it is the most hilarious thing we ever made up. The reason behind it is that I always had to play Mozart because my hands weren’t big enough to play Beethoven. I couldn’t reach the chords without double-hitting notes and I definitely couldn’t play them with the power and energy that they demanded.
On the whole, Mozart is less explosive, less forceful, less rhythmically marked than Beethoven. Technically speaking, it’s easier to play Mozart. Most of the time, you can sight read his pieces and it probably won’t sound half-bad, unless you are truly a terrible sight-reader. Whereas Beethoven is dramatic and stormy, dark and heavy, Mozart is melodic and light. His piano pieces are characterized by seemingly simple, well-balanced melodies, and yet, there is an intricacy about them that adds a surprising layer of complexity. Let’s not forget the man was a child prodigy.
Both men led pretty sad, pretty difficult lives. You can argue that we all do. When I think about my own life, I see difficult moments and challenging chapters, but I don’t think I have it all that bad compared to other people. Compared to other people. I really need to stop comparing my life, my struggles, my successes, my failures, my feelings to those of other people. (You can argue that we all do!)
Anyway, the other day, I decided to listen to a Mozart piano playlist on Spotify while I ate breakfast and read The Woman Destroyed. I had a simple day ahead of me: I would finish eating, I would get changed, I would work for a few hours, and go for a walk, and scroll on my phone, and drink coffee, and watch Atypical.
I relish in the simplicity that now defines my life. I enjoy not having to think about how to get places, or where I’m going to sleep, or how much money I need to earn if I want to buy an apartment next year.
But in these simple little moments, I’ve realized there is also a lot of hidden complexity. I would argue there’s even more than before, more than there ever was. It turns out, it really is harder to be gentle and soft than it is to be loud and aggressive and full of fire. Because when you have a life – unornamented and pretty straightforward – the holes stand out more vividly. Wrong notes become painfully obvious; they are much more difficult to ignore or pass over swiftly or bury under a blaze of people to see, places to go, things to do.
When you strip life of everything that once made it dramatic and grand and profound, you can’t hide anymore, especially not from yourself. Is that a hard truth, a painful realization? I think so. I think anything that forces us to see things and feel things as they truly are is difficult in its own way.
Most of us live our lives running from something. We might not even be able to clearly define what it is, but we’re running. And we’d rather work ourselves to the bone, or race to the ends of the earth, or smile and ignore on repeat than confront whatever it is we’re running from.