There Is George Dennehy The Armless Musician, and I’m Whining for A Perfect Studio

by Aryo Adhianto

[VIRGINIA, DOGO, LTTW] I’m annoyed with myself. As a musician, I feel the need to have everything in advance—a fine instrument, first-rate sound system, and comfortable studio—to be able to let out all my creativity. This is not entirely wrong, but what annoyed me the most is the way my mentality goes: when I have a little, I’ll only achieve a little. I had been forgetting what I actually have and why I should be grateful for: my own hands! I could never have imagined if I’m loosing one; probably I would hide and lock myself from the world. Honestly, I don’t know if I can survive like those who were born with disabilities. While in fact, there are some of them who even go beyond surviving and inspire the world.

The 19-year-old George Dennehy is surely one of them inspirations. He was born without arms in Romania, and adopted by U.S. Family at the age of one. “It was rough in the first years of my life, but I lived.” He said in a short film of I Like Adoption. It was his new parents of Michael and Sharon Dennehy from Ashland, Virginia, who stood out for what he is. They knew that George is unique, just like any other kid in the world. They also believed that the culture they live in is practicing equal rights, where everyone has the right to earn what they want. In this case, George has shown some musical interest, so his disability shall never be an excuse.

Since then, so much has happened for him. Here is his short list: he started by taking cello lessons (yes, with his feet). He championed guitar. He is also playing with electric bass and a bit of piano. He won “Richmond’s Got Talent”. He was appearing live with his favorite band the Goo Goo Dolls. He writes music. Now he is engaged to a beautiful girl. In a few words, his life is good.

George’s story has slapped me hard in the face. Reality bites, but he bites back. But I wonder, what made him capable to do such things in the first place? Is it his disability? Is it the power of music? Is it his love and passion for music? Or is it simply his strong-will?

Let’s go back to what I have: I have both my hands, I thank you God. I can strongly feel the power of music. And I think I am very passionate to music; but Strong-will? This I don’t have. Even if I do have it, definitely it’s not as much as George’s. In his case with cello, I am very aware that it is not an instrument that ‘easy to live with’, even with arms. Yet, with the support from his music teacher, George has proven himself that he not only can play, but champion such challenging instrument. I know I can’t. In other cases, we have also known inspiring individuals with physical limitations as Dame Evelyn Glennie, Stephen Hawking, Frida Kahlo, Hellen Keller, and so on. We even have paralympic Games!

So I guess I’m blurring myself with what I have, and what I should have. I am too scared of loosing my hands, my instrument, my studio, but I am hindering my own will. Look who’s disabling now.


Obituary, Nelson Mandela

[CNN, PBS, RHYTHM, LTTW] The whole world is grieving. Nelson Mandela, a figure who was and is often associated with human’s deepest desire toward peace, has left us all. South Africa’s current leader Jacob Zuma announced late Thursday that, after years suffering from health ailments, the man known widely by his clan name of Madiba died at 8:50 p.m. He was 95.

Nelson Mandela, along with other South African fellows as Steve Bantu Biko and Donald Woods, are the names of daring minorities who stood against the apartheid practice. He transcended politics, using necessary violence, prison, and conscience as a springboard for message of struggle against racial oppression.

He knew that the fight for equality has never been easy; in fact, it may take some necessary violence to counter such ignorance. The armed struggle was a defense mechanism against government violence, he said in response to the Sharpeville Massacre in 1956. “My people, Africans, are turning to deliberate acts of violence and of force against the government in order to persuade the government, in the only language which this government shows by its own behavior that it understands,” Mandela said at the time.

In the winter of 1964, Nelson Mandela arrived on Robben Island where he would spend 18 of his 27 prison years. Confined to a small cell, the floor his bed, a bucket for a toilet, he was forced to do hard labor in a quarry. He was allowed one visitor a year for 30 minutes. He could write and receive one letter every six months. However, Robben Island and his subsequent prison years became the crucible which transformed him. Over the course of 27 years behind bars, Nelson Mandela proved to South Africa’s apartheid government that they would not succeed in crushing his intelligence and spirit. He resisted oppression, shattered barriers of ignorance, and opened doors of tolerance and understanding.

Following his release, Mandela was chosen president of South Africa in the country’s first multiracial election, while became the nation’s conscience as it healed from the scars of apartheid. Furthermore, he became one of the leaders of culture who shaped the 20th century.