Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 46

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Monday October 6, 2008 (bio, idea, creative, competitive)

My Grade 5 Primary School Class I am not a competitive person. In fact I don't believe I have a competitive bone in my body. I enjoy playing contract bridge, and of course it is nice when one wins, but for me the enjoyment of bridge lies in the playing itself, the communication with one's partner and the creative way we play the game. Winning, although nice, is absolutely secondary.
At school, high school, even University too I have never been much interested in doing well, let alone aiming to be top of the class. I always did just enough to pass to the next higher grade.

The year leading up to my matriculation I considered it a waste of time to do much during the year. I did hardly any home work and preferred to play billiards at Cafe Beuse as soon as I got home from school. As a result I got 7 heavy fails out off the 14 matriculation subjects in my interim term reports.
The Headmaster of the Lyceum requested an interview with my Dad, advising him to "retire" me from the upcoming matriculation exam. My father refused, making a bet with the Headmaster for a box of cigars that I would pass the exam. After returning home he told me about the interview but made no further comments.
Just before the exam we all had 2 weeks off to concentrate on our study, and that is what I did, and in a very disciplined fashion. I did the exam and duly passed, not pretty, just over the line and good enough to go on to University. My father never got that box of cigars though, I believe. I was considered not a good example to the rest of the school.

The only times I really pulled out all the stops is when I was involved in something I was really interested in. This happened a few times on a Geology project while a geologist, but especially when I started to study music in my 40s. During that time I studied with great intensity and determination for 6 years non stop, comparable to the efforts of champion athletes. What has been going on in my life ?

It is very simple really. From a very young age (6 probably) I felt very different to anybody else. Initially this made me very insecure, and I can remember vividly that, just after the war when I was 8 or 9, I made myself a promise that one of my main aims in life would be to become really confident within myself and accept who I am. Frankly I have never looked back.

Awareness 21 continues from October 1
In a general sense I believe that there are two extreme positions from which to see oneself in this world :

  1. as the same to every other human being in this world
    The person who sees him/herself as the same as everybody else, will be competitive as main means of his/her self expression.   He/she cannot be different and therefore tries to be better in order to differentiate him/herself from the others.

  2. or as a truly unique being
    The person who considers him/herself as unique will not follow this same path, for one can not compare an apple with an orange. The unique person expresses him/herself therefore by being creative. Nobody can compare with that, because he/she is unique.

Most of us are not 100% one or the other of above two extreme cases, but a mixture of both. Some may be close to the left on the Diagram below (predominantly creative), others more towards the right (predominantly competitive), and others again may be balanced somewhere near the middle.

Diagram 1

There is yet another aspect to be considered in this context. How intense are we in the conduct of our life and especially in our need for self expression.
An obsessed painter like Vincent van Gogh was probably 100% full on in his creative drive. So may well be top performing athletes, like Lance Armstrong and others in terms of their extreme competitiveness. But most of us are not like that.   (I am not suggesting that very competitive people are not creative. They often must be to succeed, but their creativeness is secondary and in support of their real aim : winning!)

I have attempted to incorporate this aspect in the triangular Diagram below.
From the top left 100% Intensive Unique point a line of gradually decreasing Creative intensities slopes down towards the 0% Intensity point at the base point of the triangle.
Likewise the line sloping down from the top right 100% Intensity point defines gradually declining Intensities of Competitiveness.
As the Intensity decreases (towards 0%) both creative and competitive forces become less pronounced and move closer together. The 0% Intensity point at the base of the Diagram represents the attitude of total indifference.

Diagram 2

I consider myself to be very close to the Creative sloping line on the left, sometimes high on the upper portion of the line, or, during other periods in my life more subdued and near the 50% point.   (I have at times been pretty full on, and it was in fact my depressed nature when not able to be creative as a geologist which was largely responsible for the breakup with my family.)
Where do you think you fit in? Remember you can position yourself anywhere within the grey triangle and need not be right on either one of the sloping lines.

One final point.
As I mentioned above I personally was initially rather insecure in my "uniqueness". However as one gets older, accepts this fact and behaves accordingly one inevitably becomes more and more confident in oneself.
On the other side of the scale however strong competitiveness can create or be based on insecurity. It is the Law of Evolution all over : "survival of the fittest". As long as one competes and stays on top everything is fine but when this ceases trouble may start. We see that with quite a few athletes, who after their retirement get themselves into an emotional or mental down spin. They suddenly feel they have become a nobody. I believe it is not until they start to recognise their own uniqueness that they truly rebuild there self confidence. (Some of them have of course no problem with that as they become celebrated TV commentators etc.).

Creativity and competitiveness are not just confined to art and sport of course, but can thrive in any environment. My father for example was a highly creative business man. He had to be competititve too, but it was largely to sustain his creative and innovative objectives.
Awareness continues 0n October 14

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Tuesday October 7, 2008 (diary)

Mango geese It is very quiet this morning, Kim and Andrew have gone off to work, the kids are back at school, and all others have left. No more busy washing by the ladies, gardening by Gordon, only my own washing on the line.
However any day now two new guests will arrive, Rick and René, an English couple and former long time residents at the Boomerang Caravan park. They will stay here for a short period, then fly to the UK for three months, leaving their van and car here.
If they like it there they may return permanently to England. Rick's heart would be broken as he loves it here, especially in Darwin, but his wife is keen to go home. We will see what happens.

It is sad that this happens quite frequently. The men invariably love it here, the freedom, the culture, the weather, but some women keep that persisitent yearning for their family back home.
I have been so fortunate that this has never been an issue with my ex wife Antien. She loved it here from the day we arrived and never had the urge to return to Holland, not even after we had split up 28 years ago.

No sooner have I returned from a spot of lunch and some shopping in Palmerston, and Rick and René drive in with their caravan. They experienced some very hot weather on their way across the country from Townsville they tell me. In Cloncurry the day time temperature of 42°C cooled down to only 36°C overnight. Not very comfortable at all.
Rick has helped Andrew (2 years ago) during the early stages of building the farm complex and is amazed how the place looks now. René too is most impressed with the great facilities we enjoy here. They set up their caravan at Gordon's old place, go out for some shopping and on their return join me for a soak in the pool.
Who said "Life is not meant to be easy?!" (former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser did) I never did, that is for sure.

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Wednesday October 8, 2008 (diary, music, Messian, Satie)

Erik Satie, selfportrait Last night a far away thunderstorm lights up the distant sky and later in the evening we get a short but refressing burst of rain. I reed my books for a while, put out the light but can't sleep. I turn on the TV and watch a late night French movie on SBS.
Suddenly a familiar melody attracts my ear. It is Le Coulombe (?), a piece I have been practising for years on the piano back in the 80s. I have never heard it performed before, it is beautiful.
It is the very first published composition by the then 25 year old Olivier Messian. That is (if I remember correctly) what my teacher Graham Williams told me, and he should know as he studied with Messian in Paris and did a PhD on his piano music.

The piece was originally written for organ, but the version I hear with the movie is on piano, and it strikes me for the very first time how strongly Satie influenced this piece is. It is rather slow with strange beautiful chords, shifting stepwise up or down.
Messian went on to develop his own very unique and very complex style (both in terms of harmony and rhythm). But I feel, listening to Le Coulombe that it was Erik Satie who inspired and influenced him initially.

When in Holland this summer my friends the van der Vijvers alerted me to the fact that Satie's name should be pronounced with the accent on the second syllable : Satie. A common mistake by most in the English speaking world. I have been pronouncing it incorrectly for years.

You can listen to my take of Erik Satie's Gnossienne 1 here.

Today, after my regular Wednesday sushi lunch I visit Mandi, my hairdresser in town, for a hair cut. I will be back in 5 months, I tell her. Back home another caravan has arrived. It are a cousin of Kim and her partner who have come to visit during their treck around Australia. So, once again plenty of people about here on the Mango farm.

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Thursday & Friday October 9 & 10, 2008 (diary, music)

Tree in bloom with seed pods Each day when I drive through the back roads to the Coolalinga Shopping Center I pass this gorgeous tree with grape like bunches of yellow flowers and unusual cylindrical seed pods entertwined with a bright red bougainvillea. Amazing is it not that you will never ever find an example of bad taste in natures. Only us humans manage to do that. Well, anyway I now finally did not forget my camera, stopped along the road side and took a few pictures of it.

I don't know about you, but I must admit I am frightened of new technology. Mainly because it is such a pain in the neck to find someone who can fix it when things go wrong. So I have had now sitting on my desk for the past two weeks this brand new EDIROL Roland R-09HR MP3 recorder I purchased. I have picked up the instruction manual several times and started reading it. A few days ago I finally turned it on, and surprise : it did not bite me. I formatted the memory card, set date and time, and finally these last 2 days I have been recording with it.

Frankly, I am most impressed. The recorder is dead easy to operate and the sound quality is absolutely super. Best of all I can record in high quality .wav format and then make an .mp3 copy on my PC with the software which came with the device.
The WAV recording is good for burning CDs but is very bulky at 10 MB per minute. The MP3 file is therefore great for the Internet. It is 10 times smaller (1 minute = 1 MB), without too much loss of sound quality. So I will in future put MP3 files online and from time to time assemble a CD selection for friends or sale purposes.

You can play or download the MP3 files from one of my Index pages : My Recordings on MP3

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