Magnificent

Look, Tsolmo, Guy Garvey of Elbow wrote a song about you!

Well… of course, he had something personal in mind, and who knows what that is. But that first verse and the chorus (not so much the second verse, though) really touch me!

This is where, this is where the bottle lands
Where all the biggest questions meet
With little feet stood in the sand

This is where the echoes swell to nothing on the tide
And where a tiny pair of hands
Finds a sea-worn piece of glass
And sets it as a sapphire in her mind

And there she stands
Throwing both her arms around the world
The world that doesn’t even know
How much it needs this little girl

It’s all gonna be magnificent, she says
It’s all gonna be magnificent

You have to know that my grandparents – your greatgrandparents – live near Hamburg at the river Elbe which is so wide there that it has beaches. As a child, I played there for many hours, watching the ships entering and leaving the harbour of Hamburg, so amazed and overwhelmed by the huge carriers and cargo vessels that I threw myself into the sand. I found stones and sometimes little shells, trash and all kinds of items washed onto the shore by the waves. This image and the memories of the great times I had there all come up when listening to this song. This jaunty happiness, dreaming of a cruise on one of those ships, fighting pirates, discovering treasures full of gemstones… and imagining, almost hoping, that those colourful sea-worn pieces of glass actually ARE gemstones! So, now, I see you standing on that beach, carefree, playing with an empty bottle, and all your thoughts circle around is whether it is possible to stop the waves from rolling in by smashing them with this bottle (“where all the biggest questions meet”). No job, no homework (yet), no bills, no complicated relationships, just this small world full of curiosity and an untamable urge to discover. And your mind will be imaginative and creative, with a blue round piece of glass just as precious as a sapphire. And in this natural state of joy, you want to hug the world that is so great and beautiful and good! It’s all gonna be magnificent! Try to keep this light-hearted optimism as long as you can! How much the world needs you, I can tell! This bundle of love and joy that you are! And if not “the world”, then at least “my world”… Only complete WITH you! I love you, Tsolmo!

seaglass

Happy Birthday, Tsolmo!

Dear Tsolmo!

Today it is one year ago that you took your first breath on this planet. Today we look back at a year full of splendidness and joy! Seriously! It is amazing how well you developed! You are bigger than all the 12-month-olds around you, you can walk more stable, you can climb down from the couch safely, climb up (!) the play structure in the park and slide down the slide by yourself, and you dance to AC/DC and the Blues Brothers! Since you are 6 weeks old, you sleep all nights through without waking up, except for 5 (five!) nights (out of 320). Your health records mention 2 light fevers – and that’s it! Not even one diarrhoea! You eat and digest everything we feed you, including salmon, goji, kiwi, seaweed, and all other available vegetables, nuts, grains and fruits. You are able to play with one thing for one hour, and you enjoy exploring every corner of our apartment. Also – and that is the fun part – you unpack every shelf and drawer you can open (which forced us to re-organise almost the entire apartment). I guess it is a cycle: You sleep very well, so when you are awake you have strong mental capacities to explore and be active, so you use up all your energy and can sleep well, which supports your mental and physical development for more activity…

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On the Highway to hell (air guitar solo)

Recently, you developed a stronger will. If you want something you can’t reach, and we don’t give it to you, you can get really loud and demanding! How can we find the fine line between supporting your interest and curiosity and letting you experience that your will has limits? I guess, that is the basic question for many parents: Where on the gradual line between spoiling on the one end and frustrating on the other end do we position ourselves by this or that decision? So far, you are obviously a very happy child, with many reasons to laugh and enjoy your own progress. I guess, it means we don’t treat you too wrong. Sometimes I found myself being impatient and sounding a bit too harsh. Will you remember that? Your behaviour, at least, doesn’t mirror it. All in all, you are rather gentle, calm and peaceful (like your mom). Observing your development confirms my constructivist worldview: there is a strong link between your environment and your development! You are not “born as” anything, but all the patterns that form and all your constitution are the result of the experiences you make and how you in your small world construct meaning from it. It is very fascinating to observe all this, so I can say that it is you who makes us (at least me) learn and not vice versa!

Thank you, Tsolmo, for enriching and colouring our life, for bringing endless joy and astonishment, for letting us experience the most precious human trait: unconditional parental love and the unshakable willingness to care and foster. Looking forward to all the wonderful years to come, filled with your “magic”! Happy Birthday, 小魔女!

birthday

Edit:

We just finished a ceremony that is very widespread in Asia: We dressed you in some kind of “Chinese” dress, put you in front of an arrangement of 10 things and let you pick three.  Your choice is said to tell something about your future. I don’t believe in that kind of fortune-telling, but it is fun, anyway! Instead of following standard procedures or even letting an “expert” do it, we chose to do this ritual all by ourselves. The 10 things I chose and their meaning are:

  • a carrot – always enough to eat
  • a Darth Vader – attracted by the dark side
  • a tool (screw driver) – practical skills
  • a pen (calligraphy brush) – knowledge creation ability
  • a book – knowledgeableness (erudition)
  • a musical instrument (ocarina) – creative artistic skills
  • a bottle of liquor – susceptibility for addiction
  • money – material wealth
  • three owls figure (like the three monkeys) – spiritual wisdom
  • a clock – always well organised

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You picked the carrot first. You seemed very satisfied with that one, and it took quite some time to convince you to choose a second item. You took the book. You touched the three owls, but didn’t take it. Other things didn’t attract your attention at all. I think, that is a good result! At least, you didn’t choose the alcohol, the money or Darth Vader (which would be cool, too, anyhow)! For now, we interpret your choice as an affirmative message: We will provide enough food and enough sources of knowledge (for example books) for you until you are able to provide yourself sufficiently with those things! On a prosperous future!

Music for life

Now you are a bit more than 10 months old and can walk more or less freely around our apartment. You started to dance at the age of 5 months (pulling yourself into the standing position at a piece of furniture or in your hulan, luffing up and down by bending your knees) while listening to AC/DC (your favourite: Back in black), Snarky Puppy or other funky and rocking music. When you were three days (!) old you signaled to us that you liked the voice of Norah Jones but not that of Katie Melua. Your affinity to music, however, dates back even further: When we listened to Pink Floyd, Beethoven or some relaxing piano jazz, you jumped for joy inside your Mom’s belly! Music is part of my life, and so it is of yours! That’s why today’s letter is about music.

I got my first drumset in 1988. It was a very old (second hand) Ludwig drumset with a Pearl HiHat with Meinl HiHat Cymbals.

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I had drum lessons from 1992 to 1997 at the “Musikschule (music school) Beckum-Warendorf” with british Jazz drummer James “Jimmie” Sargent. I told him that I want to play in my schools BigBand as soon as possible, so after a few very basic pattern practices I started to learn simple rock and jazz beats. After one year I joined the “Junior BigBand” of my school and the brass orchestra of the music school. Much later my teacher remembered that we left out to practice rudimentary patterns (triples, accents, paradiddles, etc.), so I went back to practice those basics. In addition I had a lesson series on odd time counting (5/4, 7/8, 3/4, 7/4, 9/8, 11/4 measures).

Jimmie was a great teacher, demanding but patient and very helpful! However, after 5 years I realized that every week was the same: I practiced the homework he gave me, presented it to him, he said “Yes, good! Until next time practice the following pages…”, and I did it. In the meantime I had my first own band and we played rock music, I developed my own style. I decided to have no more drum lessons but practice on my own, that is cheaper and doesn’t need a weekly appointment! But before I quit in 1997 I bought a new drumset from Jimmie: He was endorser of Premier, a quite expensive brand, so he recommended “WorldMax”, a daughter of Premier, with excellent ratio of cost and performance. In combination with a few good cymbals and high-quality Remo drumheads the sound was pretty good! I extended the set more and more, for example with a rack to hang all the tomtoms and cymbals on, and with a Tama Iron Cobra double bass drum pedal (the most expensive piece of my set)! My band “no more lund” got some local fame and played on several festivals around Münster. Here is a photo from “Kottenrock” 1999:

drum1999

“no more lund” recorded a CD in 2001! Being in the studio was a great new experience for me! Compared to soccer, if practicing is the training, and gigs are the “league matches”, then making a CD in a studio is like “Champions league”! It feels great to “have something in hand” that I can show to friends, family or future children (you)! We promoted our new album with several gigs. I often took my shirts off during gigs, because the music we played (a kind of progressive rock) required hard work and set free a huge amount of energy. Those are the moments that I love the most about playing music, but it also means that I sweat incredibly much…

I extended my drumset by a set of 8 “octobans”, 6 inch metal tubes with different length, a drum head on one side, the other side open. Now my drumset occupied half of the stages that we played on, and sound technicians desperately scolded me because it was impossible for them to equip my set properly with microphones (or they didn’t have enough microphones). I liked to put all drums and cymbals close together, so that I don’t need to spend so much energy to move around a lot. That was the hell for the soundmen! NML had its biggest gig on the “Krach am Bach” Festival in Beelen in 2005 after recording our second album. In the meantime we developed our style to more sophisticated progressive rock. When we started in 1995 as “The Nameless” we sounded like “Nirvana”. Later as “no more lund” we were heavily inspired by “Rage against the machine”. In the years 2000-2003 our songs reminded people of “The Deftones”. Finally – and that was my favourite – we ended up making music like “Tool” or “Oceansize”. The songs were quite long and had several parts, very dynamic! It was difficult for the audience to dance, because the songs were quite complicated and “odd”, but it was so much fun to play! Especially on a big stage with huge PA system and nice lighting!

DCF 1.0

DCF 1.0

In 2006 NML split, because all members went to different places to study or work. What a pity! The best band I ever played with! After returning from Asia I played with NML’s bass player’s new band “Exit Illusion”. We recorded an EP and had several gigs in and around Münster. Here are photos and a scheme of my full set:

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I did not always bring my full set to every gig. Sometimes it was also fun to get much out of a little set. The “wild years” in which I tried to drum as strong and “massive” as possible were over in the later 2010s. I tried to focus on “economic” playing, sticking to the groove, with every hit placed thoroughly and with sense. By the way, my idols were Jon Bonham (Led Zeppelin), Nick Mason (Pink Floyd) and Ian Paice (Deep Purple) in the early years, and later Billy Cobham (Jazz/Fusion drummer), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) and Jack de Johnette (Jazz drummer). When I started my music activities in Taiwan in 2014, I didn’t have my own drumset. After years of Prog Rock in Germany, I played in a “normal” rock band, first, and then in a funk and jazz band with excellent fellow musicians, which pushed my skills to a different level.

Besides drumming, I had piano lessons for half a year in 1998 (enough to play simple songs at home), and I was singing in my school’s choir and as “Alfred” in the “Dance of the Vampires” musical that my school performed. However, drums has always been my favourite.

Why so much music? Why not football or videogaming or collecting stamps? I think, one crucial influence is that of my father who had a huge LP and CD collection, mostly 1970s rock music like Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, etc. We were not a “TV family” (the TV was even locked away behond doors in the living room shelf), but the radio was always on, or we sat in the living room listening to loud music (no neighbours in the countryside! big advantage!). Even though my taste of music as a child was terrible (I liked David Hasselhoff and sailor’s chants…), it changed significantly in my early teenages: Triggered by my increasing drumming abilities, I was more and more interested in music that I could play drums to. I took my father’s LPs and CDs and tried to drum to those songs. I was very impressed by the energy of Meat Loaf’s 1993 album “Bat out of hell 2”. In early 1994 I got my first Hifi Stereo system with a CD player. The first CDs I had were gifts from my parents, but in autumn 1995 I bought a CD for the first time. In the record store, I found one with a very artful cover and a red blinking LED: “P.u.l.s.e.” by Pink Floyd.

pulse

I never listened to any song of this band before and the CD was very expensive, 55 DM. But a mysterious driving force made me buy it. My father was very surprised but also interested in it, so we listened to it on his high quality sound system in the living room, and this music blew me away! This music was so intense, so creative, so deep and “floating”! I listened to it around the clock until I could sing all lyrics and notes, even the guitar and piano solos. I also started accompanying it with my drums. Pink Floyd’s “Pulse” is definitely a milestone in the development of my “music career”! From then on I listened to music very consciously. When music was handmade, unusual, creative, covered a large spectrum of sounds (like orchestral works) or had very long songs, then it was interesting for me. Sometimes later I bought CDs of bands that I never heard before, just because there were songs longer than 10 minutes (and actually they were all very good!). Here is my favourite music from 1997:

favouritemusic1997

Today it looks a bit different, maybe like this:

  1. Tool – No Quarter (Led Zeppelin cover)
  2. Guilt Machine – Season of denial
  3. Katatonia – Forsaker
  4. Snarky Puppy – What about me?
  5. Jethro Tull – Locomotive Breath (from live album “Bursting out”, 1978)
  6. Antonin Dvorak – Symphony No.9, “From the New World”
  7. Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb (live 1994)
  8. Dream Theater – Panic Attack
  9. Haken – Cockroach King
  10. Verbal Delirium – Close to you
  11. Leprous – The Price
  12. Thank you Scientist – Mr. Invisible
  13. Mastodon – The Last Baron
  14. Deep Purple – Concerto for Group and Orchestra (1999 version)
  15. Rainbow – Still I’m sad (from live album “On Stage”, 1997)
  16. Oceansize – No tomorrow
  17. Porcupine Tree – Fear of a blank planet
  18. Katatonia – In the white
  19. Opeth – Baying of the hounds
  20. Herbie Hancock – Cantaloupe Island (from “Parallel Realities, live 1991)
  21. In the Silence – Ever closer
  22. Stanley Clarke & Friends – Stratus (“Live at the Greek”, 1994)
  23. Snarky Puppy – Lingus
  24. Lars Danielsson – Orange market
  25. Phil Collins BigBand – Pick up the pieces
  26. Siena Root – Time will tell
  27. Dredg – Bug eyes
  28. Muse – Feeling good
  29. Evership – Silver Light
  30. Guilt Machine – Twisted Coil

Not only has a lot of great music been produced in the past 20 years. Also, of course, I got in touch with much more interesting music. And, most important, my choice of music became more “conscious” and more “picky”. There are two sides of “music”: consumption of music and playing a musical instrument. I believe that the two evolve in mutual enrichment: Playing a musical instrument is motivated by knowing and appreciating good music, but playing music by oneself also enlarges the “listening capacity”, musical understanding and personal preference impact (I mean, how important it is for you to find your preferences expressed in the music you choose). When you try to master your instrument you almost necessarily have idols and favourite songs that you will like to play. Almost inevitably you select more sophisticated and qualitatively more advanced music. But you can only choose from music you know. The biggest source of musical knowledge is your home (your parents’ choices and radio/TV presence of music) and later your friends. At the same time, you grow up in an environment that provides musical instruments (an e-piano, a Guzheng, a cajon, even a small drumset, your nephew playing Ukulele) and confronts you with people having fun playing those instruments. You listen to Jazz, Rock, Funk, Reggae, classical music, heavy metal, and other handmade music every day since your ears started to send signals to your brain! I am quite sure, sooner or later you will consciously choose to make music a part of your personal daily life. I sometimes joked around, telling my friends that you will be given up for adoption if you decide to listen to HipHop. It won’t be that bad! More important than the actual choice of music is your motivation to choose music that somehow represents your personal preference instead of rather choosing what friends tell you counts as “cool”. Maybe you will like to play music with your old daddy. I will always be ready for that, even if it is HipHop!

Is it “important” for me that you turn towards “music” both as consumer and as player? I would say ‘yes’. I am convinced that playing music is a great support for the development of cognitive skills and creativity. I feel confirmed by many studies and experts’ findings. Insightful books are Daniel Levitin’s “This is your brain on music – The science of a human obsession” (Plume, 2006) and “Music, Neurology, and Neuroscience – Evolution, the musical brain, medical conditions and therapies”, edited by Altenmüller, Boller and Finger (Elsevier, 2015). Youtube has countless videos that explain what happens in the neuronal networks of your brain while playing music: motor activities, memory, the coordination between your senses (listening to what you play, seeing the notesheet or remembering the right notes, comparing the output to your expectation), triggering of emotional states, and all that as parallel continuous processes! Not only is playing music just “fun” in the moment you are doing it, it can also increase your self-confidence, your identification in your teenages, and your feeling of self-fulfillment. In this respect, playing an instrument is much more than just about the music. It is about the quality of life. And since I wish you the highest possible quality of life, I believe that choosing “music” increases the chance to reach that! You have my full support!

Dear Little Tsolmo

Dear little Tsolmo,

I can feel you in your Mom’s belly. Soon you’ll be out to explore this world and find your place in it. What a pure and clean mind you will start with! And then come all these patterns, habits, formations, constructions and rules that shape and confine your mind. “To make you fit into this world!”, they will say. “To make you a full member of our society!”, they will say. But after years of education, indoctrination, socialisation and adaptation, you will find the first cracks in the picture. You will ask the questions that everyone who is not completely dull or dumb asks: Who am I? What is this world? What is this all about? If everything goes well, someday you will be able to come back to this clear mind. I am sorry to tell you this, but there is no other way! You can’t just keep that peaceful clear baby mind. As a new knot in a huge web of interconnected entities you will first be tightened and fixed to ensure the stability of the web. Later you will need to find your fine-tuned balanced position, then it is time for relaxation and harmonizing. Until then, others will tell you where your place is in this environment. To provide you with the abilities, methodologies and tools to find the best position by yourself, or as some might say, to go your own way, this is the most important task I see for myself as your father.

Someday, when you know me better, you will find out that I am a theoretical thinker in the first place, and you might understand what that implies. First, I go through possible options in my mind. Like in a chess game, I think through possible ways and what they mean for different futures. Then I choose the future that I believe suits me (and those I care about) best and try to do what is necessary to get to that future. Some practical people (like your Mom, for example) don’t understand that. They think it is a burden for me that I “think” all the time. But it is not! I feel peaceful and secure with that strategy since my experiences showed me that it often (not always) keeps me from making wrong choices and saves me from a lot of regrets and tears. Your Mom and me are such a good match because we add up our different life approaches to something greater: a visionary “here-and-now” lifestyle that identifies “the way to go” by our ideals, virtues and values, and then figures out how to do it.

You impact our life massively! And it will be awesome! To see you grow and develop, to learn from you and your ideas, and to enjoy how you enrich our life! You know, there is an important saying: “All the things you teach a child it can never learn!”. Or as the psychologists say: Whenever possible, enable a process of “explorative learning”, but don’t educate your child too much. I know myself well enough to identify a danger of “teaching” you too much. And, as a hopeless theorist, I am worried I will overwhelm you with principles, theories, philosophies, science and other “reasons” for “good life conduct”. In the first months of your life, it won’t even matter, because you won’t understand what I am saying. When you are 1, 2, 3 years old you might just be frightened, because in a world full of miracles and wonder all these “words” are just empty shells of some nonsense. Then comes a long time in which you will have other priorities: playing, elaborating skills (personally, I hope, I can motivate you to play music…), making friends, exploring your creativity, and of course standing your ground as a fully respected and appreciated person. But – if everything goes well – sooner or later you might ask those metaphysical questions that I mentioned above. Will you need and want advise? Will I be someone you would consider helpful for finding answers? Your old Daddy? I hope so, but I can’t be sure. However, just in case you like to hear what’s in my mind, I want to be prepared for telling you what I know.

What is knowledge? It is certainly not a block of data with visible confinements of which we could say “This is what we know!”. Knowledge is dynamic, a constant flow of information into and out of our awareness, a tiny part of it stored in our neuronal networks, most of it coming from our environment. Somehow “language” has to do with it, but I am still trying to figure out how. I will let you know my progress on that later. The point is: If in 15-20 years we come to talk to each other about some “life issues” I might only recall what goes around my mind at that time, or a few years before that. What I think now might be long forgotten or disproved or discarded. Now, before you are born, I have many plans, visions, ideas, expectations (on myself) and hopes. But maybe I forget all those over the years and turn out to be just like my own father. I believe it is important to let you know that nothing is static, nothing is fixed, but everything is dynamic and constantly changing. Ideas evolve and develop, improve, sophisticate. The answers I can give you in the year 2030 or beyond might sound “ultimate”, “strict”, “unshakable”. But I want to give you a chance to participate in my “stream of thoughts”, in my evolution of mind from now, shortly before your birth, until the time you are interested in it. And if you don’t want to read it, well, then I just read it again and will be astonished by how my thoughts, interests, insights and viewpoints change or remain constant. I write it for you, but also for myself. If everything goes well, I write it for us. Then it doesn’t make a difference anymore…

The place where you will be born is an Island known as Taiwan. You will be surrounded mainly by Chinese language and Taiwanese, a dialect of Chinese that can almost be regarded as another language. However, you will hear me talking German to you and English to everybody else, including your Mom. I hope that doesn’t puzzle you, but seeing other children growing up in multilingual environments gives me a high confidence that you will also take it as a chance to call more than one language your “mother tongue”. Language differences is just one aspect of the “clash of cultures” that you will experience as a member of a Taiwanese-German family. Sometimes, maybe, you will even feel it as a tension. Taiwanese and German societies are, in several ways, very different. Let me give you an example that plays a role right now: Taiwanese believe in ghosts and spirits and, connected to that, fortune. They pray and perform many rituals like burning paper (they call it “ghost money”) and incenses or placing food in front of shrines with wooden or stone statues. They follow strict rules and guidelines extracted from the moon calendar that is based on ancient Chinese philosophy (especially Daoism and its 33 universes worldview, I-Ging, Yin and Yang). There are good and bad days for a haircut, for planting cabbage, for getting married and – don’t be surprised! – for giving birth to a baby. There are twelve animals taking turn in representing a year. You are born in a “monkey year”, but very close to the New Year festival. If you were born last week you would be a “goat” or a “sheep” (apparently the same for Chinese people). It happened that your traditional Taiwanese grandparents seriously discussed the option of a C-section a few days earlier than the estimated birthday in order to make you a “goat” because your family name Chen matches better with a goat than with a monkey. Isn’t that stupid? People really believe in a connection between birthday and time and the personality, character and future of a newborn baby! Let me tell you in which way I think this idea is not only nonsense, but even highly dangerous!

Don’t get me wrong! Traditions and cultural customs have their important place in the daily life of people! They remind you of your roots and serve as the fabric for a social and cultural identity that gives people inner stability and confidence. However, there is a fine line between reasonable and “healthy” conduct of rituals (honouring ancestors, celebrating annual festivals, etc.) and superstitions that are based on tales, simplified explanations of natural phenomena or simply the result of misuse of power like in patriarchal or clerical societies. I don’t want to talk too much about religion now, that topic will come often enough, I am sure. For now, I’d just like to make the point that superstitions often go along with a kind of fatalism: “There is nothing I can do about it! The greater powers decided about it already!”. In case you get sick in the future, the Taiwanese will just say: “See! Misfortune! Pray more! Maybe she got a wrong mismatched name! Burn more incenses for her! Expel the ghosts from her room!”. When you are often misbehaving or don’t get good grades at school, they will blame your “personality” (that you are born with) and ultimately your genes. To me it sounds like an excuse. It shifts the responsibility for your well-being away from your family and towards some hypothetical supernatural ideas or towards a dogmatic “Nature” and its invisible intentions. Let me propose a more “sustainable” viewpoint that will support you and your needs much better: You are (most likely) born with a healthy and fully functioning body system. You will have all six senses and the physiognomic preconditions for all forms of emotions, motor function, cognition and interaction with the environment. Not more and not less. You “are” nothing (nothing that could be “labeled”) and at the same time everything (potentially). There is no such thing as “talent”. There is no such thing as destiny. You are born a blank page, ready to be filled and coloured. Your interaction with the environment, all the experiences that stream into you and create synaptic connections in the neuronal network of your brain, solidify what you will see as “the world”. Skills and abilities are formed and improved by “doing it” or “feeling it”, they are not “already there” from a time before your physical development from an embryo to a fetus or even before. You have all the potential, and it is our task as your parents to support them as best as possible, or – as a friend said – increase the number of options, or – as another friend, a teacher, the Buddha said – plant as many seeds as possible in you and water and nourish them so that the “right” ones grow into healthy manifestations. When we expose you to colourful geometrical figures in your surrounding you will develop better mathematical and imaginary skills. When we listen to music at home, you will get a feeling for it and learn to love it. When we read stories to you, you will get a creative mind full of fantasies and ideas. When we treat you with love and respect you as a full member of our family, you will also be able to love, trust and respect others and – more important – yourself. On the contrary, when we just hope you’ll be good in math (as in “born as someone good in math”), you will most likely fail. When we don’t play music or don’t read, you also won’t be interested in it. When I often lose temper with you and shout at you, you will also be a bad-tempered, angry, dissatisfied child that treats others with aggression. You see, the two opposing worldviews (destiny and pre-natal personality dispositions vs. life quality as the result of socialisation and response to environmental stimulation) have a direct impact on your life! I believe, we (your parents) have to give our best every day to give you all the chances to develop into a happy, peaceful, content human being! To give you roots and wings (to leave the nest someday without ever forgetting how to find it when you need it)! If you don’t acquire the tools to make yourself happy and content and to go “your way”, we can’t blame any gods, ghosts or “destiny”, but only ourselves and other disadvantageous factors in your environment (maybe school teachers, friends, etc.). Your way, like everybody else’s way, will be stony and not always smooth. But the more we understand that it is in our hands to deal with obstacles and difficulties, the more sustainable will be our approaches to reach our goals. A smart man once wrote: “I am the captain of my fate!”. In the vast ocean of life that is awaiting you, your Mom and me will build, repair, improve and maintain your ship that you are Captain of as best as we can! And it will be such a pleasure to see what way you choose and who you turn yourself into. Nothing is determined! Don’t be scared! You are not alone!