Learning from Music
There was always a broad range of music playing in my family’s home: Celtic music to rock, with a more limited amount of classical music and heavy rock. I learned to appreciate music and wanted to learn how to play, but my family lived in a small village that didn't have a music school or even a teacher.
A few years later when I was about 10 years old, we moved to a bigger village that had a music school. I managed to convince my parents to let me start guitar lessons. Though I wanted to play electric guitar like Gary Moore, it was compulsory to complete a classical cycle of lessons which took me four years.
While that’s not how I wanted to start out learning music, it taught me that it takes a mixture of training and enjoyment to progress. If it was all training, the interest would soon fade away.
If it’s just fun, you won’t make enough progress to keep the interest alive.
Later I also learned how to play the harmonica, which I love because of its expressiveness. For me, playing the harmonica is a good way to clear my mind. I always keep one or two harmonicas with me so I can just relax.
In addition to helping me relax, performing music can also be exhilarating. I’ve recently learned a song I enjoy from a Swedish band, and I played it at an open mic. The 10 people in the room clapped the rhythm as I played. It also meant a lot to me when my DX colleagues came to an open mic in Bodø (Norway) to support me.
I’ve learned that with music you can play on your own just for you. Who cares if you'll never be a professional or play any good – are you having fun? Of course, finding people to play who also enjoy performing is also a way to express your passion for music.
Lessons from the Sea
I was not able to develop experience with sailing until I was a teenager mainly because of my family living in Sarthe, France (a Western, inland region). No one in my family was sailing, we were living in the countryside nowhere near the sea. But for some reason, I wanted to sail from age 11 or 12.
Unfortunately, my dream was initially out of reach. It was always too costly and nearly impossible to go sailing. But when I was 14 years old, friends of my parents suggested that I could stay with them and go to the sailing school where they lived. It was a tremendous experience, and after that, I visited there every summer for a week at a time and learned all I could about sailing.
I learned to enjoy the feeling of the boat starting to pitch and roll when the wind picks up, the pull in the tiller, and the noise of the water quietly hissing by.
But after I moved to Sweden, my sailing experiences went on hiatus for over ten years. I couldn’t find where or how I could go sailing, and I had other priorities in my life during those years.
When I finally got back into a sailboat, I had a chance to relive that rush of feeling that comes as the boat reacts to the wind and the sea and knowing how to adjust the tiller to compensate for it.
However, a bigger rush for me was the fact that this knowledge was still there, somewhere in my brain, and that I hadn’t forgotten it despite all my time away from sailing.
What’s wonderful about following your passions is that there is always another goal to fulfill.
For music, I am now registered for classes at a great harmonica school. I can’t wait to graduate from all four levels and then find people to play music with!
My sailing goals might seem a bit more ambitious – I am currently trying to purchase a sailboat so I can work from “home” on the sailboat during the week and sail the Baltic Sea during the weekends.
I’ve also learned to ask for advice from people who have more knowledge than I do. I initially bought the wrong harmonica for the music I wanted to play and I lost four months practicing on the wrong instrument.
Especially because a sailboat costs a lot more than a harmonica, I won’t make that mistake again – I’ve gotten tremendously good insight on buying a boat from discussing with sailboat owners, exchanging information with surveyors, and researching.
These vital lessons have also helped me find my place at DX as part of the engineering team.
And while it might seem that I’d ultimately love to sail from port to port and play music in every town, I’ve learned that enjoying a little bit of your passions every day will help you more than a lot just from time to time.