One Day U: Making Music, From Jefferson to The Beatles

Posted on September 26, 2016



Lest you think that Life in the Boomer Lane is beating you over the head with her enthusiasm for One Day U, you are absolutely correct. She attended her second One Day U yesterday. Once again, she is swooning from the experience of being back in the classroom, being taught by some of the best and brightest professors around.

The first thing she noticed upon entering the auditorium was that the sea of greys she encountered last year had become a sea of both greys and non-greys. This was due not to oldsters suddenly discovering hair color, but to younger people becoming aware of One Day U and taking advantage of its offerings. The sight made her happy.

Her day consisted of the following:

Hamilton vs Jefferson: The Rivalry That Shaped America

With all due respect to psychology, it has been LBL’s experience that an understanding of history is often an understanding of human behavior. And the first years after the founding of our country, provided fascinating fodder for such observation. Hamilton and Jefferson, fascinating men in the own right, become even more so, when seen within the context of their bitter rivalry about what their fledgling country should be. Jefferson, the liberal populist,  believed in the promotion of the common worker over the privileged forces of wealth, capital, and establishment.  Hamilton, a Federalist, believed the country should be ruled by  the most educated, wealthy, public-spirited men.

Many of us believe our country is now on the brink. Our history, though, seen through the eyes of these two men, shows a country in jeopardy of failing before ever getting started. The Revolution was the easy part. The crafting of what this country would be was the hard part. These two men, brilliant polar opposites,  created through their differences the country we have today. And it’s only a small stretch to see the substance of their drama being played out now, over 200 years later.

Immigration: Myth vs Reality

Immigration has become a flash point lately, fueled by fears of terrorism and/or economic collapse. Contrary to what most people believe, fears about immigration have been around as long as our country has. This session dealt with the economic realties of immigration.

Item by item, the concerns about immigration were broken down.  The bottom line is that immigration creates a huge gain to the economy ($50 billion per year) and deprives no native citizens a living. Another reality is that since 2008, the net movement of Mexicans into this country has been zero. Immigrants commit fewer violent crimes than non-immigrants. They are slightly more inclined to go on to get advanced degrees.

We are far more flexible, as an economic society, than many people would have us believe.  And we are all capable of doing anything, under the right circumstances. As the instructor put it, “I teach, rather than clean houses because I studied to do this and I make more money doing this than cleaning houses. But if someone offered me a job to clean his house and said the pay was $10,000 an hour, my response would be ‘Where’s the mop?'”

The Illusion of Attention

The bottom line, here, is that we see far less than we think we do. Our eyes merely allow light to reach our brains. But the eye is incapable of taking in everything we are looking at. Our brains must decide what we see. But the brain is incapable of making sense of everything it has to process. So what the brain usually decides to see is called “heuristic assumption,” assumptions based on what is most likely to be the case, rather than what is actually seen. Leave a gap in the visual field, and the brain will cover it. (Note to readers: The instructor didn’t address herself to heuristic attention as it pertains to our current political debacle.)

Our visual field narrows over time, as does our brain’s ability to process and to remember what we see. The good news is that the downslide is very slow-going. The even better news is that the downslide starts at age 20, so we boomers can all feel smug that even millennials are in the same boat we are in.

Beethoven and The Beatles: Hearing the Connection

For LBL, this lecture was every bit as exciting as a rock concert. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony set against The Beatles’ Hey Jude. No visuals for this one, only music and a brilliant, hyper professor, who brought that music to life with a spellbinding display of words, gestures, and a reading of one of Shakespeare’s sonnets.

The professor was asked if he was reading too much into the words of Hey Jude, that perhaps Paul McCartney never intended all those hidden meanings and allusions. His answer was “Who cares? Sometimes art transcends the artist. That’s all that matters. We hear it and we make it our own.”

LBL will never hear music the same way again.

She’s said it before and she will say it now: Check out One Day U and see the dates offered in your city or in a city near you. The courses may differ, but the experience will be just as exciting and energizing.