This I Believe

Sam - Salt Lake City, Utah
Entered on January 6, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

Every day represents a different set of challenges. In each day, we all have a set of decisions to make. These decisions craft the way that we flow through the confusion that is life. If the power to make these decisions was somehow taken away from us, our lives would be dull and uninteresting. Every day, all of our thoughts, actions, and corresponding emotions would be predestined, and the way we live life would be, frankly, a bore. Because of this unappealing notion, I believe that I am in control of my life.

I don’t like the idea that all of my actions are pre decided, and that my destiny is already etched in stone. With a life like this, there is no room for improvisation and spur of the moment decisions that give life the certain zest that it has.

About a year ago, I became interested in jazz music, and began to listen to it increasingly. In jazz, the way the piece sounds is largely about improvisation. There is a basic set of chords played throughout the piece with a melody played over them several times. The rest of the piece is improvised by the different musicians taking turns soloing over the same chord changes. As a guitar player, jazz is easily the most fun genre of music for me to play. It gives me freedom to play whatever I want, and it gives me near complete control of the way the music sounds depending on what kind of mood I am in.

Through jazz, I learned that I am in control of my life. The set of chord changes represents what we can and can’t do in life. Another way to think of it is that the chords are our moral laws, as well as those sanctioned by the government. The melody represents our responsibilities, whether it be attending school, going to work, or walking the neighbor’s dog. The melody is not always the most fun or interesting part of the song, but it is necessary in order to give the song direction. The improvised solo is what makes the piece of music interesting. Without it, the music would be too predictable. Life is the same way. Without improvisation, jazz, as well as life, would be unsurprising and boring.

The power to choose the direction that our life takes because of improvisation is a great one, and is one of the awesome things that makes life worth living. Because of this, I believe that I am in control of my life. However, when you think about it, maybe all of the actions that we think are improvised and spur of the moment really are predestined, and we think that we are making them up as we go along. What do you think? I know what I believe.