The Greek playwright Sophocles presented the following riddle to the main character in one of his stories: What animal starts out on four legs, then moves to two, and then to three before dying? Of course Oedipus Rex answers correctly: man, who crawls as an infant then walks erect in middle age and finally uses a cane in the elder years. The journey of life follows much the same arc; we evolve from needing influence and guidance to finally reaching that point where our lives are up to us. I consider myself very lucky up to this point in my journey. Some people become sidetracked and wind up on a far different course than initially planned, but the detours I made have only assisted in embellishing the individual instead of devouring it.
According to Freud a person’s most important period to grow personality ranges from birth to six years. In that span my biggest influences came from my family. When I think of that time before kindergarten, the single most important person to my development was my grandmother Carmella. She didn’t graduate from college or sell wheat futures in the stock market, but she had wisdom and tenderness so few possess. My parents worked, so each morning my mother would drop me off at Grandma’s house. I didn’t realize it then but in retrospect, this woman has led a remarkable life. She birthed three sons all by Caesarian section, lost a husband in middle age, then all but raised a grandson for half a decade. She taught me how to walk and gave me my first piano lessons. She remains close to all her grandchildren yet her and I both know she holds a special place for the first one.
When I began school, friends began to shape paths for this journey. In the beginning we hardly know these classmates. Common interests and experiences bond or repel certain people to others. I didn’t understand what friendship meant until August 16, 1997, though. That morning, I fell asleep at the wheel of my car and ran into two utility poles and a tree while going 40 miles per hour. An ambulance rushed me to Memorial East and within a few hours the first person to visit me outside of my immediate family was my friend Matt. I hadn’t shown up to bowling that morning so he called my house then came to the hospital. Nobody made him come to see me so quickly but he did. I will never forget the look in his face as he stared down at me. Hopefully every young person can look at two loving parents for guidance and help. I know how fortunate it is that I live with both of my natural parents, and that they both want the best for me. My parents embedded the values I cherish today into my spirit: the difference between right and wrong, the correct way to deal with anger, the importance of dedication and hard work in life. Those seem like clichés, yet it is society that refuses to hold those basic principles sacred anymore. I consider it an honor and privilege to have parents with common sense and self-worth.
Other things have also affected the path I continue on today. Music certainly opened doors and exposed undiscovered emotions. Playing the saxophone, conducting, and even composing allowed this aestheticism to flow out from the depths of my being. Without becoming an artist I certainly would not understand my potential or the self-discipline that reaching a particular goal entails. Listening to poetry and music has helped to forge the Nick Capezza of today. The sonnets of William Shakespeare and symphonies of Beethoven express desires and feelings that I have yet even to discover. Without those outlets to describe the indescribable, I would probably be a more isolated and confused person than I am today.
Now that I have pinpointed what has pulled me to this point in the journey, maybe it’s time to discuss what will pull me further down the line. The overwhelming spectacle of college life certainly will play a hand in the Nicholas Capezza of tomorrow. Professors, fellow students, academic advisors, and even the nurses in the infirmary may all give insight and knowledge into an area of my psyche yet to unravel. Without parents there to kiss the tears away with milk and cookies, college will become the ultimate test between temptation and my inner-strength and the morals I have placed for my own behavior.
Possibly the biggest choice of any person’s life remains what vocation to go into. Even areas people have skills in may not give enough satisfaction to turn into a career, whether that satisfaction stays financial or otherwise. Whatever occupation I choose, I sincerely hope that the trek will remain on its uncertain and awesome course.
Throughout this journey of life many outside forces manipulate whom all of us become. These demons shake each individual in different ways, making it so the simple question, “What is quality?” cannot have a true answer. To me, quality means taking responsibility for one’s actions and standing tough in the eyes of a challenge. Quality includes honor, loyalty, and the instinct to do the right thing. Now who created my personal connotation? Through every relative, friend, and composition it boils down to me. I have taken all these beliefs and crammed them into a six feet, two inch frame. The real journey lies ahead, the journey from young adulthood to old age. I only pray this journey includes many travels and few destinations.