My three masters

Here's something you should know about me: I serve three masters. That might sound like two too many, but it's how life has worked out for me.

The first master that I serve is my loved ones. My wife, my children, my family, my friends and community. When I serve them well, it is a selfless service. When I serve them well, I give to them, and try not to expect anything in return.

My second master is Berklee College of music. This is a selfish service. Let me try to explain what I mean. Berklee College of music is, in reality, nothing more than a piece of paper in a filing cabinet. Somewhere back in the history of humanity, we agreed that we could pretend that something which does not exist, exists. We give it a name and treat it as if it were real. This is called a legal fiction. Every corporation and nonprofit is a legal fiction.

To digress here for a moment, you are not a legal fiction. I am not a legal fiction. You and I are real, living, flesh and blood creatures. Our names, however, are fictions. We have all agreed to refer to the sum of my existence as "David Scott", but of course a name can not sum up my entirety. So my name is shorthand for a real living thing. Many young people conflate their existence with the shorthand for their existence (read Alan Watts for help escaping this alienating trap).

The name "Berklee College of Music" is shorthand for a piece of paper in a filing cabinet. So my second master is a piece of paper. It makes sense that my service of this piece of paper is entirely selfish. My service of Berklee College of music gives me the things I need in order to serve my other two masters. For example, the money that I earn from serving Berklee goes to give important things like food and shelter to my loved ones.

I haven't yet spoken of my third master, but I can tell you that the other things that Berklee provides help me serve that third master. Berklee provides me pianos that are in tune, classrooms, meeting spaces, hot and cold running water, a library, recital halls, paper, whiteboards, and photocopy machines. It also gives me a community of other musicians and teachers, staff that keep the whole place running, and students. I need these facilities and I need these groups of people in order to serve my third master.

Now finally, to the subject of my third master. This master is called music. When I serve music correctly, it is a selfless service. I do not know for sure how music wants me to serve it, so on any given day, or in any given year, I can only take my best guess. One way I believe that music wants me to serve it is by spending my time on it. I offer chunks of time in order to obtain what little fragments of music I can. I also believe that music wants me to listen, in order to better love and understand its many forms. I believe music wants me to show it off to others for their pleasure and to music's greater glory. I also believe that music wants me to teach other musicians what I have learned about it.

When a student comes to my class, I do not ask them to serve me. I ask them to join me in offering time, thought and heart to my master, music.

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