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#39: Self-Esteem and Friendship versus Narcissism

Larry Ruttman's Note to This Podcast:

One of the big ironies in our world is how self-esteem and narcissism are often confounded. One who has self-esteem, self-confidence, chutzpah, whatever you want to call it, and backs that up with ability, talent, and accomplishment, is often mistakenly regarded as narcissistic. Usually such a person has many friends, many of whom help him along the way, despite those many detractors whose animus is often the inability to see the true person, or, even worse, envy. The true narcissist has few if any friends because he thinks he has all the answers. There are true narcissists before us on the world stage every day these days as war rages in Ukraine. Another was our President until recently. Usually the true narcissist has little to back up his claims of superiority. 

 

In this podcast you will meet Conductor Benjamin Zander, a man who shows his self-esteem on his sleeve but has the goods to back it up as the impassioned leader of two eminent symphony orchestras under one roof, the Boston Philharmonic and and the Boston Youth Philharmonic. Ben has literally thousands of loving friends through his music-making, his caring for the personal and musical development of his yourthful disciples, the gratitude of the parents and family of those charges, and his energetic generosity of time to the welfare of those who come within his wide ambit. That is what I call “self-esteem and friendship.” It describes people who make a difference in this world. It provokes envy too among some of Ben’s fellow musicians and the public too, those folks, like me at an earlier time, who fail to see the difference between self-esteem and narcissism. Ben put it all down in his best-selling book, The Art of Possibility, written with his former wife, Rosamund Zander.

 

As this podcast went on my accomplished interlocutor, Jordan Rich, and I segued into talking about Matthew Aucoin, another celebrated musician barely past thirty who recently composed the opera, Eurydice, performed several times at the Metropolitan Opera in December, 2021, and who authored a book published that same month about opera, entitled The Impossible Art, which is destined to be a classic. Already Matthew is described as the Mozart of our time. A few years back I enjoyed a two hour conversation with Matthew which provided me with valuable insights for my current book, Intimate Conversations: Face to Face With Matchless Musicians, which also created a bond of lasting friendship between us. Listen and hear more about this remarkable young man who hails from among us in Massachusetts. 

 

That led Jordan and me to talk about the interview vs. the conversation, the latter of much greater value, in which Jordan and I, as veteran conversationalists, seek to have the listener feel they are listening over our shoulder to the actual conversation. Jordan rightly described those as “enriching and refreshing.”

 

The words Friendship, Inquisitiveness, and Maturation are in the title of my memoir. They are all exhibited in this podcast.

 

People, always people!

ABOUT THE PODCAST

Launched in August 2021, "A Life Lived Backwards: One Man's Life" is a new podcast from Larry Ruttman and Jordan Rich. Larry Ruttman makes the case that old age can be the best time of life. You'll hear stories of friendship, mentors, romance, the love of learning, Larry's dedication to his faith, his passion for music, history, the law, and, of course, baseball. Tales told by a master storyteller with a razor-sharp memory and a wit to match! Subscribe and enjoy "A Life Lived Backwards: One Man's Life," available on all major podcast platforms.

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