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Something ventured, something gained


“Something ventured, something gained” isn’t the flip side of a familiar coin. It’s a different coin altogether.

In today’s economy, it seems to me, there’s a whole lot of gain without any venture whatsoever. And I don’t mean venture capital.  Contrarily, I also know from personal experience that (ad)ventures on my part—stepping outside my comfort zone, into unfamiliar and even uncharted territory—have often made significant gains, though not always in the direction that I might have hoped. A couple “case studies” come to mind: reaching out to a renowned composer, for example, to create “Agincourt Fanfare” for the 2007 exhibit, or a casual conversation with a third-year architecture student about my desperate quest for a blacksmith. Each venture, each extension of my metaphorical hand, has had a happy consequence.

That’s even been the case with the New Yorker art critic, for example, whose father was a North Dakota native and recipient of an honorary NDSU degree. He didn’t say “no”; he said nothing. If he had responded with comments (what a waste of time it had been, reading my opening gambit; the ludicrousness of the project or his disdain for North Dakota) I’d have learned something. Feedback isn’t always what we’d like to hear, but it’s feedback nonetheless and helps our learning curve. And, yes, at sixty-eight I still have one.

So yesterday I reached out again, to Dr Elena Ruehr, professor music at MIT. [Who knew they made joyful noise at MIT! Shows my ignorance.] Professor Ruehr’s name may not be a household reference in your neighborhood. I learned of her through an obtuse connection with the movie “Cloud Atlas” because she has written a cello concerto with the same name. Listening to several of her recordings, I became convinced she would be a good fit with Agincourt. Time will tell.

“Be careful what you ask for. You just might get it.” I’ll deal with that when the time comes. But whatever the outcome, I will have both gained and learned something.

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