“Changing direction in life is not tragic. Losing passion in life is.” Max Lucado
After finishing the novel, “Night” by Elie Wiesel, I found myself overflowed with emotion. Every single Jewish person in the novel went through endless amounts of suffering, both physically and mentally. It opened my eyes to the horrific actions that people could do. I already knew about the Holocaust beforehand, but this novel brought a first-hand experience that changed the way I looked at how severe the Holocaust was. For this personal response, I struggled to find an idea. I couldn’t relate to pretty much anything or anyone in the novel. However, when I finished reading the novel, I strangely related to one character, in particular, Juliek.
That will sound very odd. I have never experienced his pain; I have never experienced his loss; I have experienced nothing that he ever has. We only had one similarity, we were both musicians.
“Juliek, a Pole with eyeglasses and a cynical smile in a pale face.” The moment he was captured, his music was taken away so easily, much like a candle blown out with a single breath. He was still allowed to play the violin, but only the same military march, repeatedly. He was with his violin but without his music, unable to play any of the songs he desired to play. He was an incomplete soul, barely alive, a shadow of what he used to be. But right there, in the night, in the snow, he played what he had always wanted to. His soul was complete, even if it was only for a moment. He had never lost his passion, he still loved playing the violin. It kept him alive. Even in the rush to Gleiwitz, through the cold, through the snow, he still carried his violin. It was a part of him. He lay beside his violin, both violin and man broken.
I started playing the piano at a young age. I spent hours practicing and practicing, refining my technique, enhancing my hearing, improving my sight-reading ability. The practice was gruelling, time-consuming, just outright annoying. Simple said I wanted to quit. I didn’t know why I kept going; I didn’t see the need to continue. But there was always a light at the end, fueling me to go on, fueling me to achieve my goal. In the summer of grade nine, I graduated. After all the effort and dedication that I had put in, I was only rewarded with a small certificate and trophy. That didn’t matter to me much, I had accomplished a dream, a goal that I had always wanted. At first, I felt relieved. There was no practice that I needed to do, stress for exams was nonexistent, nerves before a large performance vanished in an instant. I relished the time that had been freed. I felt relaxed knowing that there was nothing that needed to be done. Those joys only lasted for a bit, however. I was missing the simplicity, the sound, the enjoyment of playing the piano. With only twelve notes and the press of my ten fingers, I could play beautiful pieces. It felt great to hear such rich sounds, knowing that I was the one playing them. I had lost my passion for the piano. I couldn’t love it anymore. I only saw it as an annoyance, something taking up my time. It was always there, in the same room, collecting dust. Unknowingly, I came back to it.
Living without passion can leave people without purpose. Passion brings fuel to life, it brings enjoyment in dark times; it gives us the drive to learn; it brings a sense of happiness. With Juliek, his passion for music kept him alive. He wanted to play the violin; he wanted to hear the beautiful sounds coming out of the wooden instrument; he wanted to feel his hands pressing against the metal strings, neck gently resting on the chin rest, hand loosely gripping the bow. He never lost his passion for these reasons and that is why he kept going, trying to survive during the Holocaust. Passion kept him alive and left him, leaving the world completed.
Featured Image: https://giphy.com/gifs/violin-57litq5puloCk
Piano Image: https://lessonsinyourhome.net/blog/5-practice-techniques-to-improve-your-piano-skills/