Australia / Sydney
The symposium held on the 27th of February began with a review of the standards that make things popular amongst society; Chloe read to us a fragment from the well-known Ayn Rand novel: “The Fountainhead” that described the authentic artist Howard Roark as being “beaten” by the cherished mediocrity of Peter Keating. If you haven’t read the novel the phrasing “cherished mediocrity” might be puzzling: Peter is a renowned architect shepherded by the public eye, whereas Roark’s taste is genuine and controversial. We say we admire real talent, but when it comes to it, it is often the mediocre taste that gets all the attention. Is fame about more than just talent? Why do we keep mediocre standards? Are we afraid to aim higher? Or are we scared of change? It would seem, in the words of Marianne Williamson, that it’s our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
Natalia shared with us the story of Andre Agassi; renowned tennis player and author of “Open”, autobiography in which he describes the pressure that was put on by his family to become the absolute best. According to him, this longing for perfection became such a burden in his life that it made him hate tennis “with a hidden passion”. Regardless of the pain he felt, he was still named World’s No.1 by the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) for 101 weeks. Agassi believed that living with that stress and anxiety was a part of who he was, until he realized he always had a choice. There are many things in life that are definitely not in our control, but we will always have the choice to decide how we go about it. We cannot control what others do or say, but the way we react to them is absolutely up to us.
Tania made us wonder about points of view and human connections with a passage from “Extremely loud and incredibly close” by Jonathan Safran Foer in which the 9-year-old narrator imagines what it would be like if we could hear each other’s heartbeats and if so, would they start to beat at the same time? This made us think about what sets the rhythm of our hearts, and why they would pound to a different beat. In our speculation, we all experience life differently and consequently we have different likes, dislikes and points of view. Communicating and connecting with others is what makes us learn, understand and synchronize. Maybe being able to listen to each other’s heartbeats would allow us to realize that even if our rhythm is different, our hearts are all the same.
Our gathering ended with “I carry your heart with me”, a poem about unconditional love by E.E Cummings, recited to us by Millie. In the poem, this love is described as carrying the heart of one’s lover in our own in a manner that blocks all fear of losing them. However, it does not imply that love means sticking forever together, in fact it delivers the message that true unconditional love is helping your loved one find the freedom to be exactly who he or she needs to be. We started wondering about when have we come across such love, which made us understand that love is not exclusive to romantic relationships but that we feel this beautiful force towards family, friends and life in general, which is why love is the root of everything.