For the first ever Book For The Day, I decided to make a rather unusual choice. Instead of selecting a book to examine thoroughly, I wanted to use a book, one that is seemingly irrelevant to music, as a catalyst for discussion. The book is Shaky Colonialism: The 1746 Earthquake-Tsunami in Lima, Peru, And Its Long Aftermath, by Charles Walker.
Shaky Colonialism covers the 1746 Lima Earthquake and the efforts of the Peruvian Viceroy Manso de Velasco to rebuild the city. The natural disaster was so devastating that of the 5,000 people living in the nearby costal town of Callao, only 200 survived, a death rate of 96%. Viceroy Manso proved more than ready for the challenge and was so successful that by the end of his post-earthquake reforms, Lima was better off than before the disaster. He used the earthquake as an opportunity to consolidate his power and strengthen the local government while simultaneously restoring social order to the city.
Walker’s main argument in the book is that natural disasters have been one of history’s greatest tests of government strength and provide an opportunity for federal and cultural change. I chose this book because I believe this principle can be translated to level of the individual.
The ultimate test of the individual is his or her ability to respond to disaster and utilize the challenge as an opportunity to grow. Throughout our journey we are guaranteed to hit points of despair, scenarios where giving up is the easiest option. But if we push through, we often find that we have risen above our previous circumstances.
In early August of 2013, I was on vacation with my family. During this trip I hit the lowest point I have ever reached in my now eight years of playing music. I hated everything about what I was doing. I hated the songs I was writing and the songs I was learning. I hated my level of technical ability and that I seemed unable to play any of the songs that I wanted. I hated music. I hated guitar. Every note I played disgusted me. I wanted to quit. I wanted to light my guitar on fire. But I didn’t. For some reason or another, I stuck with it, pushing passed the plateaus that caused me anguish. Over the course of the next year, I worked harder than I ever had before, completely reinventing my entire technique of playing guitar and relearning songwriting. At my most vulnerable point, I was able to finally develop my style. I was able to discover my sound and who I was, both as a musician and a person.
A little over a year later, I released my own solo album.
In times of strife and tragedy, surrendering may seem like the safest option, one that minimizes loss. In reality, quitting is the most dangerous, because you relinquish what could have been. Never give up, because if you stick with it, you will ascend beyond your limitations and become the person you were born to be.