Emotional Intelligence — Bruce Springsteen Leads the Way
The Connection between Christmas trees, Rogue camels and a Springsteen concert
WHAT DO Christmas trees in Rockefeller Plaza, the pending slaughter of rogue camels in Australia and a Bruce Springsteen concert have in common?
– First, articles about all three appeared in the New York Times recently.
– Second, the Springsteen article explains the connection between the other two.
Yes, yes… an explanation is in order.
I read three articles, each in different places in said paper and completely disconnected from one another. I also read much of the rest of the paper that day. When I put it down and looked up, it hit me how Mr. Springsteen, rogue camels and ornamented trees in New York City are related.
Let me describe the essence of each article and then draw my conclusions.
Christmas Trees in Rockefeller Plaza
In his Op-Ed piece, Rootless for the Holidays, John Duvall (a documentary sound recordist, not a columnist), recounts the history of the Rockefeller Plaza Christmas tradition of erecting enormous trees there, often a Norwegian spruce, that are then adorned with the stuff of the Holiday Season to be admired by all.
These trees are often 70-feet tall and have lived longer than most of us before they are unceremoniously cut from their roots for our ceremonies.
It wasn’t always so. In 1942, the Rockefeller Center decided for the first time to transport living trees, the tallest being 50-feet, a height constrained dictated by the size of a living tree’s ball-root. After the holidays, the tree was then replanted. When WWII ended live trees were replaced with dead, taller ones.
Yes, it’s more difficult to travel with a ball-root that can measure 12-feet in diameter so that the tree can live and be replanted after our festivities, but it’s doable, so why not do it?
Why is an extra 20-feet of height worth the death of a tree?
To the extent that this holiday tree at Rockefeller Plaza represents Christmas, than surely the metaphor of it “dying” (being extracted from it’s original spot, roots and all), and then being “reborn” (replanted after we adore it) is contextually appropriate.
Wild Camels in Australia
The next article in the paper was about a large marauding group of camels in Australia.
“Australian authorities plan to corral about 6,000 wild camels with helicopters… after they overran a small Outback town in search of water, trampling fences, smashing tanks and contaminating supplies.”
What then, pray tell, will these authorities do?
“Gun them down.” (Imagine the carnage.)
Why is killing them the solution to overpopulated camels?
Bruce Springsteen, Live!
In his regular Friday column, New York Times columnist and pundit, David Brooks, opines about The Other Education, the kind that is not learned in a progressive, often rote fashion in a classroom, but through the visceral experiences of life.
His example is Mr. Springsteen and his music.
“… over the next few decades”, Mr. Brooks writes, “Springsteen would become one of the professors in my second education. In album after album he assigned a new course in my emotional curriculum…
The knowledge transmitted in an emotional education… comes indirectly, seeping through the cracks of the windowpanes, from under the floorboards and through the vents. It’s generally a byproduct of the search for pleasure, and the learning is indirect and unconscious.”
He ends the column with these words:
” Last week, my kids attended their first Springsteen concert in Baltimore. At one point, I looked over at my 15-year-old daughter. She had her hands clapped to her cheeks and a look of slack-jawed, joyous astonishment on her face. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing — 10,000 people in a state of utter abandon, with Springsteen surrendering himself to them in the center of the arena.
It begins again.”
Why are people so connected to and emotionally affected by a Springsteen concert?
Connecting the Dots
Rocker Springsteen, Australian camels, Rockefeller trees… what do they have in common?
Each is an example of where we humans are along a continuum of emotional intelligence.
Yes, Mr. Brooks, we get our “emotional education” outside the classroom, in the field of life, where among many others, rocker Springsteen is our cherished professor. In Springsteen’s case, he connects us in a swirl of musical bonding. We look in the face of others, our daughters, sons, friends and neighbors, and see our own connection to the beat of life.
The thing is, it’s a connection to human life. A bonding to human emotion. If it’s not of “us” it doesn’t count.
The trees aren’t us. The camels aren’t us. So when we look at them, nothing vibrates back. No emotional intelligence there.
And that’s what hit me when I put down the paper last Friday: We can feel so emotionally bonded at a Springsteen concert, a moment when our hearts are open and we’re all connected in the recognition of that common thread between us. But camels and trees aren’t us.
Cut them down.