So it’s way past my bedtime and I’ve been sitting on YouTube just clicking on the next video and the next video and the next one. And rather than doing what I really ought to do – what I’ve told myself to do 10 times now – I clicked on the next related video that looked interesting. It was a string quartet arrangement of one of Satie’s Gymnopedies. One that I’ve seen a bajillion times, admittedly. But why not watch it again, eh?
One of the things I love so much about this video (besides the stellar music which is obviously the focal point) is the movement of the musicians. The literal movement. Watch how they all dance around. They just look so absorbed in what they’re doing.
And even though I’ve noticed and admired their enthusiasm for playing many times before, something different struck me as I watched it this time.
They’re all moving. They’re all engaged. Each one of them. Those 8th notes the 2nd violin has? He moves through them. The dotted half notes? Cellist and violist are so into them too. All the “unimportant” and “boring” parts… these musicians care about them.
Let’s be real though. They don’t actually care about those isolated parts in and of themselves. They’re boring as hell. Really. But these musicians care about them in the context of the group and the music as a whole. Because these parts are really important in the music as a whole.
All great artists look at the big picture.
This seems to be an excellent strategy across all facets of life. The unimportant or boring things we do really are unimportant and boring if we zoom in really close and just look at them for the menial chores that they are. Taking out the trash, updating that spreadsheet, going out for coffee with that awkward girl you thought would make a good friend but aren’t so sure about any more. It all seems like drudgery.
But if you zoom out and take a “big picture” look at those things, you could quite possibly be filled with a new appreciation and enthusiasm for them. Taking out the trash is an investment in your lifestyle. Updating that spreadsheet builds your company up. Going out for coffee with that girl helps grow your social capital and sense of community and connectedness.
The next time you’re feeling unimportant or inundated with menial tasks, take a step back. Zoom out. Look at the big picture. See how your one piece of the puzzle fits into a grander portrait. All great artists look at the big picture.