Living Like Zach
This is a beautiful story about someone who cares more about others than himself.
"You can be with Zach, and just be sitting there with him, and feel better. He's got...I don't know how to describe it...he's got this aura about him," his dad comments in the video.
"What makes you happy is seeing someone else smile because you put it there," Zach said.
One thing that I see a lot of in society is people cutting others down. I think for the most part, human beings are innately good, that each of us has a light within us that makes us want to succeed, and makes us want to help others. However, with the stresses of life piling upon us, we must be extremely careful, for our inner light's brightness is in serious danger of being lessened and dimmed. If we ignore this problem long enough, the light can be completely extinguished and we become cold and heartless human beings, with false motives and mirages of goodness that are inwardly evil and selfish.
Being in the career I've chosen, I see an incredible amount of superfluous and cunning "goals" that pianists set for themselves. I am constantly talking about these things with my wife, and how fame is one of the most deceiving vices a human being can encounter. Growing up, I always dreamed of being a famous concert pianist, performing in cities across the world, getting to travel and see the most beautiful things this planet has to offer. I let it become so ingrained in me that it defined who I was. Everything I did was the for the advancement of my career, and I cared little about anything else. My friends from school or in the neighborhood would ask if I could come and play soccer or basketball or go golfing, and I was actually happy to tell them that I couldn't because I was practicing. I remember quitting competitive soccer at age thirteen and it was one of the greatest days of my life. Sure, I always enjoyed playing sports, and I got really into skiing and golf in high school, but more often than not I would cancel anything and everything for piano. I would rarely attend anything my siblings would do - soccer games, football games, dance recitals, and a bunch of other cool stuff - because I had a crazy amount of hours I had to practice if I was ever going to reach this goal. I would always tell myself, "Piano comes before everything except God."
One of the greatest blessings came when I met my wife, Lindsey. We started dating when I was 17, and ended up dating (minus a two-year church mission) until we got married when I was 22. We wrote each other the whole time I was on that mission, and being away from her was even harder than being away from piano. She has taught me more about perspective and what is really important in life than anyone else. She teaches me daily that self-definition is not about how big my repertoire is, how many competitions I've won, how many CDs I've produced, or any of that kind of stuff. Ultimately, self-definition is about how you affect others and bless their lives through your endeavors. I watch my colleagues enter competition, after competition, after competition, just knowing that if they can win one of them that their careers will be set, only to find that the life of a concert pianist continues to be a tough and endless road of work and dedication. Many of them have burned out and quit, and other push on tirelessly, allowing practicing to devour their entire existence. While I have respect for their passion and work ethic, I pity the fact that many of them are missing out on life and the many beautiful experiences that they could have if they kept things in perspective and balance.
Like Zach, you are remembered for who you are, much more than your list of accomplishments. One of the great heroes of piano is Van Cliburn, who recently passed away. While his winning of the Tchaikovsky competition was monumental, I noticed that everyone who was mourning the loss of this wonderful person were saying things about who he was rather than listing his many pianistic accomplishments. They commented on what kind of being he was, on the kindness and character he exuded from his charismatic and loving personality. We can all learn a great deal from people like these. It is one of the most elegant truths that when we do what we can to assist and glorify others, we receive the greater reward.
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