Friday, June 28, 2013


An Internet dictionary defines the word "validate" as meaning:
to officially prove that something is true or correct
to officially state that something is of an appropriate standard
to make a document legally valid
On public television news last night, a segment was devoted to the diminishing world of orchestral performances. Since music of various kinds -- including classical -- has lifted me up or drowned me or exploded me or swooned me or stolen my soul or eradicated me in convincing and delightful ways, I watched and listened to the segment.

The tale was quickly told: The music that once could only be heard in gilded theaters had wound its way onto records, then tapes, and now iPods. Attendance at symphony performances had and has plummeted. Why go out or make some expensive effort when the same music could be had at the touch of a button?

But the TV segment focused and refocused on the young and often incredibly dedicated and skilled musicians. They were attending schools like the premier Julliard School, paying enormous sums, battling enormous competition and sacrificing in ways that others might never consider. These were people who ate, drank and slept their efforts. But how would they live if audiences stayed home in droves?

A music teacher commented -- perhaps whistling past the graveyard -- that even if they received no pay at all, such students would continue with their art. This was their soul, their life, their heart and there was no escape. The had to do it. Anyone can sympathize with or even idolize such dedication ... but seldom do they investigate what they may applaud. Is it true or is it wishful, wispy, hopeful thinking?

Are these very dedicated students -- in a way akin to my own reaction to some music -- beyond the need for validation? And is the soaring into a realm that is beyond all clamor and applause recognized instinctively as something that is, at last, honest and true? It may be a delightful thought and even a delightful truth to soar in a realm that is pure soaring ... but it is also confounding and perhaps spooky.

If a tree falls in the woods and there is no one there to hear it, is there, in fact, any sound?

How many aspects of life are laden with the need for or insistence on validation? I don't mean this in a snarky, high-seat tone ... just as a question: How many? Or maybe the question should be asked from the other side: How many aspects of life are not laden with the need for or insistence on validation?

These days, college graduates enter the world with a certificate attesting to a wider validation of their education. In Buddhism, schools can claim a lineage "all the way back to the Buddha" and teachers can exchange certificates of approval. Powerful executives jet to warming climes where others serve them cooling drinks and validate their standing and prowess. Grade-school children rush home to announce to delighted and approving parents that they have gotten an A. A soldier wins the Medal of Honor or the Croix de Guerre ....

There is nothing precisely wrong with validation, no reason not to feel the satisfaction of an apparent success. But I do think that examining the function and reliability of validation is worth the price of admission. Failure to investigate leaves the validated soul uncertain ... constantly seeking out more and better validation because this validation -- the one just now -- never quite covers all the bases.

If a tree falls in the woods and there is no one there to hear it, is there, in fact, any sound?
Where the music lifts anyone to inexplicable heights, well, what's that about?
And then there are the more mundane questions that can arise out of a kiss, an orgasm, a sneeze...

A land without validation seems to be all around ... and yet the best anyone can manage is to attempt to validate it. And the man or woman who announces, "I have no need for validation" has eviscerated the truth simply by making the statement.

A land without validation. A music beyond music. Falling in the woods. Aaaah-choo! It's all so simple and endlessly obvious and yet it's harder and more bloody than chewing barbed wire.

It seems to me that the more anyone elevates a land without validation, the more bliss that is found within its confines, the greater the attachment to a world rife with validations. So perhaps bliss is a good warning signal ... validation is not necessarily bad and a land without validation is not somehow good. It's more a matter of making friends with the inescapable, finding some peace with the endlessly obvious.

The tree falls in the forest. The music soars the soul. The kiss defies all language. The FedEx truck passes by the house.

Do I really need to validate all of this?

Isn't laughter more appropriate ... real laughter -- the kind that makes you fart without validation?

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