“Music is the one incorporeal entrance into the higher world of knowledge which comprehends mankind but which mankind cannot comprehend.”
– Ludwig Van Beethoven
As a student of Western art music, I have studied the life of Beethoven quite extensively and more than just knowing his name, as many other people do, I believed in knowing him; I tried to delve into his emotions as I read through factual knowledge. As he was turning deaf, he considered killing himself so seriously, that he began to pen down a suicide note. As he did so, he arrived at a point. A crossroad. A choice to make. An ethereal life or a deaf existence? What is now known as the Heiligenstadt Testament was the note that Beethoven intended to, but finally did not send to his brothers. In this note, he converted his suicide note into a glimmer of hope, by deciding to live for his art.
An extreme choice was what he had and he chose to live. Music was his “entrance into the higher world of knowledge”, not death.
Life gives everyone crossroads. From something as trivial as choosing between two shirts to wear, to choosing whether or not euthanasia is an intelligent option for a poor family’s dying member, it is our own choices that decide our fate. An amalgamation of how we perceive something through logic and how we perceive something through emotion creates a point where a plethora of choices open up. The differences between the logic that drives human psychology and the emotion that does the same are quite extensive and crossroads are inevitable when these different psychological patterns of functioning, clash.
Living through life with choices is very difficult, but in the end, our choices are what define us. For people, our choices are the only tangible manifestations of our personality. The definition that one’s choices gives him stands vital in the journey to introspection. As an entity in himself or herself, a human being needs to know who he or she is by expressing oneself through choices. Though ostensibly, it may seem that knowing the self, the soul, is not important, it is extremely necessary for a better existence to know oneself and to know one’s conscious and subconscious thought processes. The road to ‘self-discovery’ or the aforementioned introspection lies in the choices we keep making throughout our lives, but even in these choices, there are no right or wrong choices. There is only that which happened and that which could have happened. Beethoven’s suicide may have conditioned one of his siblings to compose music mainly through emotional turmoil and this may have resulted in music even greater than that of Beethoven’s himself. The fact that we do not know the alternate reality which may have taken place due to the other choice acquaints us with the fact that choices cannot be right or wrong. This characteristic of a choice, which someone makes, is very close to the definition that a choice gives to a person’s character. The fact that a choice is neither right nor wrong actually puts the individual in question in a state of indecisiveness. It is at this crossroad, that a person is defined. By choosing between two entities of an ambiguous nature, a person places in front of everyone, his true nature. It is through these choices that someone reflects upon where he or she went wrong or what condition of mind that person took that decision in. Seeing the choices I made two years ago and the choices I make now, I truly believe that I have re-defined myself over time and I am sure that through choices and crossroads, many have realized who they really are.
An individual’s existence revolves around the many facets of his or her life and though these revolutions are constant and their stops are ephemeral, there are those points where these revolutions stand still. These crossroads where lives stop are where there are abrupt ends, fresh beginnings, trampled hopes and new tomorrows. Choices make us and choices break us, but it is these choices that define us and make us who we really are, decide what we really believe in and fill in those voids which life purposely leaves; a chance to create new human beings. You, me and everyone on the face of this earth. We can choose.
We have a choice.