July 1, 2003
My Moment Of Truth
We all have them. Those moments that fundamentally change us. We may not always recognize them as they’re happening, but we look back and they are crystal clear — the turning points that shape our lives, alter our direction, offer us a deeper understanding of who we are or want to become. Moments of truth often come in the guise of a challenge or even a crisis; an experience that threatens to topple us rather than teach us. Sometimes no great strife is involved at all. Revelation comes in all forms. But the result is always the same: We are molded by specific events and experiences. Their duration can be brief but their impact is everlasting. The lessons they teach help and heal us. They provide answers to questions we may not have even known we had. They liberate us.
Sharing these lessons, and our memories of the events that produced them, reminds us that we all ultimately face the same basic truths — that life is short and we each have our own path to travel; that success is relative and commitment to something other than yourself and your bank account is imperative; that your journey is not defined by your talents or gifts, but by your choices; and that at the end of the day, you alone will have to live with those choices — good and bad.
BLACK ENTERPRISE asked six highly successful women and men to share their most meaningful moments of truth. Perhaps their responses will speak to some of the yearnings in your heart. In reading their stories, you may experience a moment of truth all your own.
THE SUMMER I DISCOVERED COLTRANE
Wynton Marsalis Jazz Musician Artistic Director at Jazz at Lincoln Center
The segregated south is not a very creative atmosphere for a young, black boy, but Wynton Marsalis became an artist nonetheless. One of six, he grew up in New Orleans and has been around music all his life. His father is a musician, some of his siblings are musicians, and he has played music, the trumpet, for some 30 of his 41 years.
He is currently the artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center (J@LC), the 12-year old, nonprofit arts organization dedicated to the creation, centralization, and distribution of the only original style of music to come out of this country and go international. And you can tell from the passion in his slightly husky, slightly Cajun-accented voice that there’s nothing else he’d rather be doing: “To transform American cultural mythology through the integration of ideas — that’s what this is all about. We want Jazz at Lincoln Center to be a place for the innovation of the arts through the focus of jazz, because jazz music is always collaborating with the other arts — film, dance, you name one.”
Listening to him play and lecture and talk about his music, his work, and the places jazz has taken him, one would think this Juilliard-trained, nine-time Grammy award-winning jazz and classical musician has loved jazz and classical music from the