To play or to remain silent/ Tocar o permanecer en silencio

“Use what talent you possess: the woods would be silent if no birds sang except those that sang best”. Henry Van Dyke.

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A wall piano is made available to the casual passer-by to use. Displayed on a busy sidewalk at Davis, California (September 2015)

Both, the open piano and the written quote from Van Dyke are an invitation to give an outlet to our self-expression.  We, westerners, do find, indeed, pleasure and rewards in self-expression.  Our western civilization holds self expression in high esteem. We assert ourselves and our egos by allowing -say- our artistic or scientific talents to manifest and we want the credit for it too. Is self-expression so necessary , though ?  Van Dyke warns us about the horrors of silent woods but we should warn him about a world of unending, loud and annoying chirping.  At least equally important-if not more so- is to count with eyes and ears at the receiving end, an audience who can reflect on your talents. Otherwise, with no echo, self-expression becomes an empty and void experience. The East has resolved the issue at the root. The East is less keen to encourage individual self-expression. In the East, there is value in keeping yourself quiet and “not doing” will keep you out of trouble. Self-imposed silence is a form of restraint and self-discipline , one that frees us and opens up possibilities. To play or to remain silent? Your choice *

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El piano de la foto, con su cita de Van Dyke, es una invitación abierta para la expresión artística del viandante casual. Ciertamente, los occidentales, encontramos placer y recompensa en la auto-expresión. La civilización occidental entera se basa en la importancia de la auto-expresión. Nos reafirmamos y amasamos un poco nuestro ego cuando damos rienda suelta a nuestros talentos artísticos o científicos y claro que buscamos el crédito por aquello. Pero es la auto-expresión tan necesaria como creemos? Van Dyke nos advierte de los horrores de un bosque silencioso pero a lo mejor deberíamos advertirle a él más bien de un mundo atiborrado de ruidos y algarabía ensordecedora. Tan importante o más que la autoexpresión es contar con ojos y oídos que testifiquen de nuestros supuestos talentos, pues en ausencia de eco, la autoexpresión es un ejercicio vacío. El Este ha resuelto este problema desde la raíz. El Este no estímula la expresión del individuo. En el Este, el silencio autoimpuesto es una forma de auto-restricción y auto-disciplina, la apertura de posibilidades y una manera de liberarse. Tocar o permanecer silentes?  Su decisión *

Author: Constantino

A Chemical Engineer born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela. He has worked for the oil refining industry in threes countries under different capacities. With photography and writing as hobbies, he has traveled the world (and has still to settle somewhere). Loves movies, Latin Jazz, black coffee and red wine... Kampai!

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