[June 18, 2022] The piano is a beautiful, complex, highly artistically useful instrument. Some of the greatest songs of civilization are played on it, pushing our imaginations to new heights as its music touches on something ancestral in the deep recesses of our minds. We are all free to play the piano and create these melodies, but we do not. Why?
The answer is that we cannot take advantage of this freedom. We cannot play the piano. We do not know the chords and the scales (at least most of us cannot). If we were to learn the specific skills to play it, we would become infinitely richer than if we never learned to play the piano.
Before you can be someone who can play the piano (beyond re-playing old songs by rote), you have to obtain the necessary disciplinary skills. And to obtain those skills is a long, painful process of repetition and hard grinding work. This is what psychologists call the sacrifice of the present for the future. Once those skills are managed to a critical point, things start to open up.
Nearly everything we learn of value is like learning the piano. For example, it is very, very difficult to learn to write. And, there are arbitrary rules to follow and bind yourself to. It takes a long time of practice and development, and study. And, yet while learning those hard-won skills, the odds you have any creative writing freedom to speak of is small. You are a base beginner who can barely put together a sentence, much less a great writer of great deeds and heroes.
Interestingly, whatever creativity you might have before playing the piano, writing, or anything of import will be stifled during the learning process. Yet, once you have passed through that narrow window of difficult learning, something massively important opens up on the other side.
Disciplinary institutions like universities are places of guidance and where people are encouraged to develop the discipline necessary to exist beyond the discipline. You must first narrow yourself in the crucible to training and effort and work, and only then can you broaden outward.
This action is the process of maturity, the sacrifice of many potential childish paths to a single, adult path (that is the noble path if we have the proper guidance and focus). You can then apply those skills creatively; along the way, you now have the freedom to do something new and exciting. Discipline then is required before you can have freedom.
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