Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Personal Response to Texts -- Regaining Honour and Certainty

            When individuals face misfortune and setbacks in their lives, they strive to find a way to retrieve any lost honour and certainty that keeps their lives balanced and in focus in a number of different ways. Honour, defined as the “honesty, fairness, or integrity in one's beliefs and actions” or as “high respect, in regards to worth, merit and rank”, can be understood in different respects, depending on the perception of the specific individual. Certainty, however, is simply known as the structural inevitability in one’s life; the absolute freedom from doubt or reservation and to have confidence in the indisputable truth of factors that involve themselves in everyday life. Despite possibly knowing the methods to one’s salvation, actually being able to achieve such a feat is a different situation altogether.

            In Setting Up the Drums, a poem written by Don McKay, the concept of taking advantage of tragic circumstances in one’s life is greatly emphasized. Don McKay wrote, “All this hardware to recall the mess you left back home and bring it to music and get back to the heart”. From this quotation, it can be acknowledged that McKay is trying to emphasize the fact that people can use their passions, be it drums or other forms of endeavours, as coping mechanisms to bring forth reflection on the issues that are taking place in one’s life, regardless of who the individual is as a person. With the statement, “How music will make itself walk into the terrible stunned air behind the shed where all the objects looked away”, the idea of music, or any activity, can allow for people to bring forth the darker times in their past to review and evaluate how they can make the future more prosperous. Ultimately, such techniques revolving around a person’s favourite passion or pastime can be a defining factor in providing them with the strength, as well as the willpower to press forward toward a future filled with redeemed honour and a refined focus on situational certainty.

            The portion of the story Redemption by John Gardner portrays the character Jack Hawthorne as he is engulfed by the guilt of a farm accident, which resulted in the death of his brother. As a result of this, Hawthorne used his passion of playing the French horn as a way of coping through the sadness and despair that consumed his everyday thoughts. Upon attending lessons and practices, Jack was thrust into reality with his level of skill being criticized by his teacher. Despite being shot down, though, Jack was not ready to quit. Music had become the redeeming factor in Hawthorne’s life, and with his new passion, he was trying to move forward and pursue a future free of guilt. Through this, you begin to see a drastic alteration in Jack’s personality; he is no longer willing to simply isolate himself and avoid any and all circumstances around him. Instead, his fighting spirit has been born anew, and he is no longer simply living through the mindset that focussed on the loss of his brother. As a result, Hawthorne reaches a state of rediscovered honour in the sense of his past integrity and beliefs, and the fact that his passion has driven him to developing an objective shows that he has a regained sense of certainty in his life as well. These concepts can easily be generalized to relate to real-life as well, in the sense that when individuals find something they are passionate about, they become empowered to venture further into the depths of the activity to reach new lengths with their skill or enjoyment. Similar to the concepts discussed with Setting Up the Drums, the thought of using a musical instrument or tool to bring forth new motive to persevere is discussed thoroughly, and many individuals in modern day society, and even in the past, follow suit with the very same tactic. In the end, we all strive to pursue that enhanced motive, hoping that it will serve to be more beneficial than anything we have had occurring in our lives beforehand.

            Though I have not experienced something as drastic as either one of the novels, music has still contributed to helping me maintain an overall focus on my beliefs and objectives. Throughout my lifetime, more directly through my years of high school, the pressures of friends and homework and trying to find a setting in which I feel comfortable has stretched across my mind for as long as I can remember. From having an anxiety disorder years ago and still experiencing minor effects of it to present day, I have always managed to be an easy target for stress, despite my reluctance to display it. However, even with every situation surrounding me, I have always found that music played a key component in bringing focus to my goals, as well as composure to my thoughts. Whenever something has the tendency to cause frustration, I simply turn on some music or start to play my guitar, and I temporarily leave behind all troubles and obstacles that I may be facing. With this, I can return to the situations later on feeling revitalized, ready to take on the task at hand with a clear perspective on my own sense of honour, as well as a firm grasp on the certainties of the environments around me. As a result of the positive benefits of music that I have experienced, I can firmly support the concept of music being extremely cooperative in helping anybody restore honour and certainty in their own lives as well.

            Whether we choose to actually take initiative to follow through with the methods we come up with to overcome our misfortunes, or if we choose to let them ruin our lives, the final choice is ours alone. However, it can be said that music, or passions in general, will be there to catch us when we fall, and dust us off if we choose to get back up. In Setting Up the Drums, music is used to retrace the steps of the past and to assist the portrayed individual in trying to embrace the possibility of a future void of the calamities of the past. With Redemption, we see the potential of a man, driven by his musical passions, desperate to regain the life he once had, and ultimately, regain his own honour and perspective as an individual. In both pieces of literature, the characters portrayed have lost their focus on life, as well as their honour; a piece of their very essences. Through the drums and the French horn, both stories depict a hope for the future, and in conclusion, revitalization to each individual’s fundamental nature. When life chooses to knock us down, we can choose to fight back, struggling desperately to reverse the setbacks we experience throughout our everyday lives, knowing that the power of song will help us through the journey, so long as we let it.

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