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Many lives – many wives…

I had the privilege of hearing Thomas Yu perform at Dr. Cam McLean’s house last weekend. If you haven’t heard of Thomas, I’m surprised. He is a highly accomplished classical piano soloist. At the same time, he carries a full dental practice. And an elegant domestic life with his partner. It all summed up in the question…

The other member of our trio was Dave Rodney, Alberta’s Associate Minister of Wellness. And a father of 2 riotous boys with Jennifer. And a speaker of renown and impact.

Dave and I asked Thomas the big question. Thomas had just gotten off the plane from San Diego. He’d played at a friend’s wedding. Last night. Late. And not just throwaway pieces. Blockbusters. Chopin. Lizst. Ravel. Highest of challenges for all pianists.

Of course, Dave is no slacker. He travels relentlessly and meets, meets, meets. He described a typical day. First one, breakfast. Last one, dinner. Even later. I don’t think we have any idea of the lengths our MLA’s and cabinet officers go to so we can enjoy strong stewardship of our public weal.

Now, I can’t claim to be in this league, but am driving hard for a full, rewarding and contributing life. Chairing effective and affecting peer advisory groups, facilitating intense and difficult interventions seeking [and creating] breakthroughs, hiking, skiing, painting, keeping up to Elaine – all major – and competing preoccupations.

But the question. What would yours be? After hearing a dazzling 45 minutes of pyrotechnics on the Steinway. On 4 hours sleep. With a full week at the office awaiting. And travel next weekend to Innsbruck to play with a full recital there. For two consecutive nights.

No, not “Why?” That question never leads to anything but defense to what is fundamentally a challenge to validity. As in, “I wouldn’t. Why do you?”


And is it “How?” That would lead to a polite declension of superficial details that are not really of interest.

So it was a “What?” What’s driving you? And Thomas had an interesting response.

It was supplied by reference to one of his music teachers. Thomas is ‘way beyond technique’. He is in that rarified air of mastery where the issue is not how to play these demonically testing pieces. He has that down and strives to do justice to the composer’s intent and dimension by applying an interpretation that extends and amplifies the piece.

The teacher consoled Thomas after a contentious lesson. “You have a wife.   You have a profession – which is like a wife. You have another, making all together, three. She is music. She will never leave you. And you must tend to her.” The implication is clear.

If any of those wives is neglected, she may become spiteful. And divorce is quitting – not a possibility for Thomas- or Dave. Both strong, committed, talented, contributing and forceful personalities.

I predict this for both, when the reckoning comes at the end. They will have done honor to George Bernard Shaw’s parting wish: “When I die, I want to be all used up.” I can’t imagine another fate for either of these exemplars of the fully lived life.


Doug Bouey
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

What’s Our Business?

Bringing out the best in you, your company and your people.

Doug Bouey, President
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Calgary, AB // Phone: 403.777.1144


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