Lessons Learned from my Daughter: Arts vs. Sciences

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Heard a teen singing in the talent show at the Alameda County Fair last week. Her voice was one of those rare gifts, full of resonance and richness as she sang to the sparse crowd stuffing their faces with fried foods. I was walking past with my family and her voice stopped me, as it did the diners the moment she started singing. Maybe 16, in ripped jeans and a tiny t-shirt, she sat onstage and strummed her acoustic and sang like an angel, everything from Greenday to a few of her own beautifully melodic tunes. I, my kids, my DH, and the entire crowd hushed as we listened to her singing. She captivated all of us for maybe 20 minutes until her set was up. Two older teens took the stage after her, and sounded pretty much like most rockers. Everyone went on with their eating and I walked away with my family to explore the rest of the fair.
     Later on at the fair I saw her walking with her family and briefly stopped her to gush over her voice, assure her of her very unique talent. Her proud mama told me her daughter plays all the time, and in fact her daughter agreed music was her passion. Her dad chimed in right then that his daughter was a diligent worker, strove for excellence in most everything she endeavored, and as good at math as at music. He proudly informed me and my family that she was slated to pursue the sciences in college, and his daughter confirmed she had plans to become a doctor.
     Been thinking a lot about this girl the last few days. A voice like hers comes along once every million (or more) people. And while the pursuit of music is a risky one, with her voice, success would probably come a lot easier to her than most. In her ripped skinny jeans and tiny T, she had the body, and the stunning face to solidify the star image, making her chances of success in music even better! Yet, by all common wisdom, becoming a doctor not only made her parents beam, but is perceived to be a greater gift to society at large than music.
     I’ve been on that page myself. I mean, what is the point of a painting, or a song, or a piece of fine writing anyway? It’s not like curing cancer. A painting sits on the wall. It doesn’t help anyone, cure anything. A song, well, we may sing along with it, lift us up when we’re feeling sad, or share it when we’re happy, but it’s not going to extend our lives, like being a doctor will. And fiction writing, ah, what is that worth other than a few hours of entertainment. It’s not going to change the world or anything, right?
     Spent my lifetime searching for my value, if I have any, so very often feeling like I don’t. All I’ve ever really been is an artist (in one form or another, drawing, designing, building, writing). And unless I’ve use these skills in the commercial arena such as advertising or marketing, I’m left with little recognition and even less income when I practice the fine arts. So what the hell good are the arts, anyway?
     Society measures our value by our perceived contributions. Doctors, professors, executives make a lot of money by the perception that they give a lot to society as a whole. Value of medical pros is easy to understand, caring for the sick, curing disease. Teachers, who are actually paid quite a bit only working part time yet making full time salaries with benefits and pensions, are not only rewarded financially but sociologically with accolades and kudos from the media, politicians and society at large. High level execs manage businesses that employ many, ostensibly.
     Telling people about this teen singer, and asking what is the most contributory path this girl should take—doctor or musician, hands down the answer is “doctor.” Understandably, achieving success through music is difficult at best, but that was not my question. Assuming she could become successful with music, most people still insisted a doctor saving lives, potentially curing cancer was of greater benefit to society. Me, too, until asking my infinitely wise 11 year old daughter this question.
     “She should do whatever her passion is,” she told me on the way to drop her off for a week at Girl Scout camp last weekend.
     “What if she has a passion for both?” I asked. “I mean, if she could potentially cure cancer, wouldn’t that be of greater value to the world then music?”
     “It’s her choice because both are equally valuable. Music can stop wars, soothe feelings, be shared across the globe to build bridges between people where there were none before. I mean, look at all the concerts that raise money for hurricane victims, or money for medicine for poor countries. Music helps me deal with my feelings everyday, keeps me in touch with what I’m feeling, reminds me I’m not the only one feeling like I do. It connects me to everyone, knowing we’re feeling basically the same things.”
     Every part of me was humbled by her insight. Not only was she validating the Arts, my daughter was validating me.
     “Sure, curing cancer is important. It’s why I want to be a doctor. And I love music too, but I’m not great at it, and probably never will be. But that girl at the fair was, is. And if she can turn the world on, like she did us, and all those other people sitting there, than maybe she should do music instead, no matter what her dad said or wants her to be.”
     Touche!

Wow! Two great new reviews for Reverb!

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ARLENA DEAN REVIEWS:
“Reverb” By J. Cafesin was a “love story, a psychological thriller paced with romantic suspense.” I truly could not have said it any better because this was truly a story of redemption. I enjoyed the first POV from James Michael Whren and the other characters are in third person POV.. all giving the reader a good story. The author was able to create a emotional intensive feel that ring high from the ‘backstories’ on to a much needed happier ending that we were given in the end. The reader was able to feel the tension that radiated from James, his dad and the other characters to a point of making it seem you are there in the midst of it all. You will definitely find yourself being brought into James’s world. This author was able to use all of this through the ‘accusations, deep talks, revelations, and the many arguments only to bring out to the reader a good intriguing dialogue. In the end I can only say I thought “Reverb” was a awesome read that I could not put down until the end.

However, be ready for a few scenes that maybe a little ‘graphic in nature and languages that push the boundaries’ for some of the faint hearted, but still I did like the way this author presented it all.

“James Wren is brilliant, beautiful, wealthy, and taken – with himself, or more precisely, his genius for creating music. But on the evening of his brother’s funeral, his father turns James’ life upside down.” This is where the story will take off and James meets widowed Elisabeth and her young son Cameron. Now, to get the rest of it all I will say to get the rest of the story you must pick up “Reverb” to see how this author makes it all clear to the reader.

The characters: James Whren, Edward Whren and Elisabeth Whitestone and her son Cameron were really the main characters who were colorful, real, even believable. However, for some of these characters you will be able to feel the ‘angst, anger, frustration, pain and betrayal’ that will be all up into this interesting story.

I agree that “Reverb” was “fast paced, fascinating, shocking but most of all a riveting read” that I would recommend to you as some compelling story.

I have looked at the book cover many times trying to figure it out…then it came to me…. “Reverb” is all about James… who was of “echoes, repercussions, consequences, aftermath fallout to backlash.” Well done author J. Cafesin!

JINKY IS READING:
Wow, I’m at awe! This was thinking outside the box (my prude box). A definite unforgettable tale and splendid storytelling. I was captivated from the very start and when I got to that (don’t what to spoil it for you), particular adult content , I yelp, “Oh no!”. My mind immediately thought that this was going in the direction that I didn’t want it to go ..just not my genre. But I kept reading and glad I did. It so happens that the incident was not to tantalize but clearly the opposite. It was crucial to showcase it in order to get into the source of James’ mentality.

James’ story was remarkable because his odyssey to finding meaning in life was cause to reflect. Life definitely throws us wretched circumstances and those times can put us in a solipsism kind of thinking. In James’ case, fear “reverberated” (like his music) in his heart and motivated his steps. Although my fear is different from James’, I can certainly relate to the intensity and self-centered thought process. I want to throw the towel, I want to hide somewhere, I want to punch something, ..I want an eraser! Then we are rescued by love ones, a spiritual being, or what have you and then and only then comes the understanding that as horrible as that was, we’re stronger for the lesson it taught. That in turn puts you in the path to a happier and fulfilling you. That was part of the message I got from this read. Another was the saving graces that family plays in our psyche. A love story in the end. Edgy and dark getting there so it did leave me with a bit of a negative energy.

This novel delivered main characters that poured out their souls, supporting characters that really added richness to the story, backdrops that followed the suspense well, meaningful lines, and a life affirming message. Well crafted, Ms Cafesin!

I only recommend this book to mature readers because of its strong adult content.

My quoteables:
“You’d figure out that love wasn’t going to consume you, but complete you.” (1710)
“Yeah. Atheism is efficient that way. But I envy your faith. You’re never alone, or without purpose.” (2474)
“The thing is, living is all about feeling. Feeling pleasure, …pain …Angry, sad, hurt, scared, compassion, passion, love– letting yourself feel these things because in them lies the spectacular richness of being alive …” (pauses are my own, 2640)
“My body reverberates with the pounding of my heart, fear suddenly gripping my throat and suffocating.” (2667)
“Who you love may be chance, but how you love clearly isn’t” (4384)
“This is all we will ever really possess, James. Use it wisely.” (5354)