Sunday, January 2, 2011

Resolution: Happiness

This is Franz Liszt, a German composer who spent twenty-six years composing his first piano concerto.  He began in 1830 while still a student and didn't complete it until 1856.  It's hard to say why it took him so long.  Certainly, he was occupied with other things.  A virtuoso pianist, he travelled Europe extensively as a young man, even stole Countess Marie d'Agoult from her family.  Liszt was a piano teacher who represented the influential Neudeutsche Schule (New German School) and a conductor who contributed greatly to the modern development of his art.  So he was busy.

Last week, I heard a story about New Year's resolutions.  I honestly can't remember where I heard this (see prior entry about the circuitous mess of my mind), but what has remained is something the person, who I believe was a psychologist, said.  Every resolution, she claimed, is basically a hope for the same thing:  happiness.  If I lose those ten pounds, I will be happier.  If I call my mother more frequently, I will feel better about myself and therefore, be happier.  If I save more money for vacations, I will travel and be happier.  If I finally get that project/work/creation/novel/clean-up/plastic surgery/exercise/concerto/fill-in-the-blank done, I will be so incredibly happy!

I wonder.  Liszt couldn't have known that soon after he completed the concerto, great sadness would enter his life with the deaths his two children.  He even entered a monastery for a few years.  But what I'm wondering is whether Liszt felt happiness with the completion of his long-labored concerto.  Or whether the creation of it was the cause of contentment and that's why he worked on it for so long.

So make those resolutions and complete those goals, but make sure you're enjoying what you're doing in the meantime.  You can hear a bit of Liszt's first piano concerto here.  I think it was worth the wait. 


  1. I am wondering if this mirrors your own writing journey. Curious, curious. For me, the pleasure is always in the process. It is very nice when it is all said and done. But then, if given to the public (for books and art and other works) everyone has an opinion. Even lovely opinions carry a certain weight and change the course of your journey. I am much happier when it is all my own. Happy New Year, Mary! Enjoy the journey and may it bring you nothing but bliss.

  2. Good post. Yes, on our quest for happiness we should remember to enjoy the journey rather than always focusing on what we believe will be the end gain... which, as you say, can so easily be shadowed by unexpected sadness.

    The piano concerto is lovely.

  3. Thanks, Kelly. Well, I guess I would have liked to finish one leg of my journey by now but I seem to have intersected paths with five others :-). I agree on the selfish aspect of creation...however it's nice when someone has at least a glimmer of your vision. Very gratifying. Best in the new year...

  4. Beautiful Blog ... I look forward to further posts


"As soon as we express something, we devalue it strangely. We believe ourselves to have dived down into the depths of the abyss, and when we once again reach the surface, the drops of water on our pale fingertips no longer resemble the ocean from which they came...Nevertheless, the treasure shimmers in the darkness unchanged." ---Franz Kafka