Left Coast / Right Coast: Recognizing life's patterns

If you’re paying attention, life has patterns in it. What patterns am I talking about? Well, my dad was a musician so I inherited some of this ability. In fact, music is nothing more than particular patterns. 
Mike Gold social distancing on the golf course. Photo credit: Scott Brown.

By Mike Gold, a retired entrepreneur "living the dream in the Pacific Northwest."

If you’re paying attention, life has patterns in it. What patterns am I talking about? Well, my dad was a musician so I inherited some of this ability. In fact, music is nothing more than particular patterns. 

When you listen to a symphony, no matter who wrote it (Mozart, Beethoven, Vivaldi, Chopin, Bach – the classical composers) or more modern composers, (Brian Wilson – Beach Boys, Paul McCartney – Beatles, John Lennon – Beatles, Billy Joel, Carole King) you will hear patterns.

One way to recognize the “correct” pattern is if you are “in” to music at all, you can detect a wrong note. It is amazing how accurately you hear the music – and you just instinctively know whether the song as written is being played that way.

If you listen to the very first singer in this URL, she is singing what is supposed to be Celine Deon’s famous hit: “My heart will go on” (from the movie Titanic). I challenge you to figure out what she is singing – even knowing in advance what she’s supposed to be singing.

Now listen to Celine sing it: "My Heart Will Go On." One is a pleasure to listen to, the other “not so much.”

Some of you may recall one of the funniest TV shows, called The Gong Show. Contestants, very much like current programs (America’s Got Talent), show off their (mostly) singing talent. Here is one very bad example: The Gong Show – Losers. It is so painful (at least to me) to listen to bad singers or for that matter, any musician, perform badly. The wrong notes just make my ears hurt. So those are the patterns I am talking about.

Now throughout life, patterns exist – especially if you’re good at hearing or seeing them. Among the other subjects I always felt comfortable with include: Language – When you listen to any of the Romance Languages, you can easily hear patterns as they are spoken. 

While you may not be able to understand what is being said, you can detect things like nouns (a key part of any language – a person, place or thing), personal references (such as I, me, you, etc.) or verbs, which are in most cases “operated” on by other words that surround it. After a while, you can start to pick up the nuances of what is being said.

What else? Okay, I bet you wouldn’t have thought of this one: Mathematics. When you study any branch of higher math (say geometry, Algebra, trigonometry, Calculus, etc.), you can sometimes “impute” the “missing part” of the equation simply by recognizing the logic, rhythms, and pattern of the math. At least, I can (sometimes).

What else: How about Philosophy? – I remember getting to my senior year in undergraduate engineering school. I had taken the normal complement of liberal arts courses. English, language, psychology, etc. I had never taken a philosophy course. 

So, I went to see the Dean of my Engineering College and asked him if could drop one technical engineering course and substitute a philosophy course instead. I’ll never forget his response: “Why on earth would you want to do that?” 

I patiently explained how much I wanted to take this course. He agreed. The course was Philosophy of Religion. Now I’m not particularly religious but thoroughly enjoyed the course. My term papers was called: “The Existence of God.” In it, I had to logically attempt to prove that either God existed or didn’t. 

I remember I got an A on the paper and aced the course. Why? Because as you read the great works of literature on this subject, one is struck (at least I was) by the great amount of logic and patterns in all the arguments. Here’s but one: If God is so great that nothing could be greater, then to deny His existence is to concoct something greater than God – which theoretically is not possible.

Last one: Personal Interactions: As someone trained in engineering which makes no allowances for personal interaction. I find being a “sales engineer” is highly dependent upon recognizing the person to person interaction patterns that are clearly there. 

One of my mentors used to tell me: “If your prospective customer gets a bucket of water and dumps it on your product, then you can probably assume he/she does not like the product.” Some great advice I have always used in my business proposals.

Logic (and patterns) tell me now I should “stop.” Otherwise, I risk getting a bucket of water dumped on my head.


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