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Essay: The Amadeo Syndrome


by: John W. Worman

The following excerpt was deleted from The Frog King because, as a lecture, this does not move the story forward. However, in keeping with this community’s theme, it deserves some attention. But please note, I may still use all or parts of this work sometime in the future. So, please respect the copyright.

Grab a cup of your favorite liquid, sit back and enjoy the text:

Essay: The Amadeo Syndrome

"Bill, have you decided what you’re going to play for your senior recital yet?" Earl Asked.

"Well, for sure I’m going to play the Ciaccona by Tommaso Vitali. For the second work my advisor wants me to perform one of the Bach Unaccompanied Violin Sonatas, even though I’ve been resistant. It seems everyone performs those these days. The third piece is totally up in the air. Dr. White thinks I should do something contemporary, at least something into the late Nineteenth or early Twentieth Century. Do you have any suggestions?"

"Something by Saint-Saens would probably be well received." Earl was especially fond of Saint-Saens, Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso.

"I know, I know what you always say, but I don’t play the Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso as well as Jim Wyatt can." Bill relaxed into his chair with a thoughtful silence and then added, "Wish I had his gift. You know, it seems as though he never practices, yet he probably plays better than I ever will. Guess some people simply have a gift from God."

"Be very careful with that statement! What he has, he’s earned. Just like you!"

"Well, yeah, but some people have it so easy." Bill interjected.

"Be careful, Bill! You’re setting yourself up."

"For what?" Bill was almost afraid to ask. But he also knew that by asking, Earl would take the time to help him understand new motifs. That’s what his mentor did and Bill was thankful for it.

"It’s only natural that people want life to be easy!" Earl Continued with his eyes dancing. "Yet, when obstacles get in the way, rather than grow from the experience, too many times, people will use whatever excuse necessary to justify their own limitations. How does the saying go? ‘When you tell yourself you have limitations, they are instantly yours.’"

Bill immediately recognized his error.

Earl went on, obviously enjoying himself. "I believe people are doing exactly what they want to be doing with their lives and that they have exactly the abilities they want. They may tell you otherwise and they may complain like hell. However, if they really wanted to change what or who they are, they would. It’s really all about momentum. Seems we either have the momentum to get off our asses and do something, or we have the momentum to stay put."

"You make it sound simple." Bill took another drink of his coffee.

"It is! Look at your own life. You didn’t want the life your parents planned. So regardless of their beliefs and ideals, you chose something different. Didn’t you?"

"Yeah." Bill returned in a somber tone. He still wasn’t completely certain his choices we the best. There was certainly a lot of heart ache along the way.

"Many people make drastic changes in their lives. They take what abilities they have and build upon them through conscious choice; and that momentum of choice keeps them moving forward. While others live their lives with little change or growth whatsoever simply because they default to their learned behavior; that’s momentum, too. Fortunately or unfortunately, we all make choices. Our choices maybe conscious or unconscious; whatever, they are still choices. Those who are in default simply accept their abilities and limitations as they are, denying any further growth is possible, they seem to have the momentum of a rock."

Earl straightened up as if to bring comfort to an aching back. "Unfortunately, the people who don’t change much--who are unwilling to change--they tend to believe that the ones who have a great deal of talent or who are willing to risk being different, as being something special or gifted. This is because they’re not willing to admit that there are growth processes we must all go through in order to achieve success.

"Let me give you a real life example of what I’m talking about. About two years ago while giving a series of lectures on self-limiting belief systems, I stumbled upon a very interesting analogy. I call it the Amadeo Syndrome. The idea came to me one night as I listened to an early Mozart Quartet. You see, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a very gifted child, so everyone thought. As you remember, he was born into and grew up in a family of musicians. His father was a fine musician who taught Amadeo music, almost from the moment he started breathing. His father’s objective was to create a child prodigy. Obviously, he succeeded. Young Amadeo was able to perform and give concerts while other children were still wetting their beds. Lucky for us all, young Amadeo enjoyed and celebrated his abilities. He went on to become a musician and a composer of the finest order. He’ll no doubt be remembered for centuries."

Bill interrupted, "Amadeo?"

"Why yes. Mozart called himself Amadeo, his baptismal name. You didn’t know that?"

"Guess I didn’t." Bill chuckled.

"You have many wonderful things to learn, but let me go on. Amadeo was indeed talented. But we must never loose sight of the fact that he earned every bit of his success and is personal momentum kept him going at all odds. Yes, maybe he didn’t have to struggle quite as hard as many of his peers; some of the more mediocre court musicians of his day thought his talent came too easily, that he was personally chosen by God. But, you see, they didn’t have Amadeo’s drive and flair, especially in their own youth. What made matters worse, Amadeo was arrogant and really enjoyed theatrics. As a result, he blew most people away. Because of this, people either loved or hated him. He was different!

"This, then, is the Amadeo Syndrome. It is the belief that people who are different, who are gifted or have unique abilities are somehow either blessed by God or possessed by the Devil. They have the momentum the common person will never achieve. Therefore, common people are cursed to live lives of mediocrity, unable to do anything about their fate. And because of this syndrome, people make all sorts of excuses to justify why they aren’t willing to do something about their own personal ecology when they are unsatisfied or unhappy. People are infected by this syndrome when they tell themselves self-limiting phrases like: I can’t, I’m trying the best I can, someone else made me do it, I’m not smart enough, I’m not talented enough, I’m not lucky. God, the list of excuses could go on forever. Tell yourself that you have limitations--as if by magic, you do!

"The vaccine for this syndrome is to simply say ‘I can’ and risk being creative. Then, take some steps toward accomplishing your goal. Even when your steps seem trivial and small, or you stumble a few times, they are still better than no steps at all. And yes, you may be slower than the person next to you. And, that’s okay. Speed is not the issue. The only issue that’s of any importance is: you’re making some progress on your path; you’re making some change. And no matter how big or small, it’s still change. There’s an old Chinese proverb that says a thousand-mile journey begins with a single step. Remember, that proverb doesn’t define the size of your steps. But until you begin to move you have no forward momentum.


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Copyright October, 1987, John W. Worman