I’ve been thinking a lot about the space between the notes, in music and in life. Quite frankly, the blending of the two. As a musician, I was taught about the discipline of waiting and going forward. The discipline has served me well. Its been a cruel teacher when I’ve failed to take it seriously. It has been a two-sided friend.
I read a quote once credited to Bill Evans. He was asked in an interview why he seemed to linger after striking certain notes. His response was simply his desire to wait and see what the next note would bring. Jazz musicians have always been credited with strong improvisation skills. Obviously, or not , Bill Evans was a master at it. He believed that music was conversational.
Life is conversational.
In your race to grab a hold of something or someone, are you missing the space in between? Could it be that what you’re looking for is found there? The impact is always felt once a note is played. The best artists know true impact is felt in an echo or the lingering tone. It’s instinctive in so many respects, yet ignored in the same frame.
Is your life just a flurry of notes, full of hurry, clutter, fear, and doubt? Why won’t you slow down? Why won’t you let go?
I know many who fear what’s in between the notes. Between the notes we find the wounds. People often fear those same wounds will be exposed. Who will listen? Who will give empathy? The world has become shallow, and safe places to open up are becoming more rare. Social media has made it worse. I sometimes think about what it would be like to wave a magic wand and change it all, but of course I don’t possess that power. Life is tough and it can be daunting.
I overheard a conversation with an adult family member yesterday. He was lamenting the sad reality of a creative’s existence. You’ve probably heard it before:
“They’re starving, and all artists starve.”
Funny how those who complain about the creative’s plight, often are big admirers of art (life, parenting, music, painting, cinema, etc.). So what gives? Is it really about starving and doing without? Is it really a dance with insanity to do what only seems to make sense to you?
As someone who tried to close and lock the door to my creative wiring, the wiring never goes away. I finally accepted it and learned to celebrate it. That was a crucial awakening.
For those who say retirement, promotions and prestige are the keys to a fulfilling life, that game is already been called.
Here are my 5 reasons to be creative:
The age of the doer is over. Just like many types of change, an age ends before the mass knows and feels it.
You were created to be creative. Not everyone will be a Miles Davis or Daniel Day-Lewis, but everyone has it in them if they are courageous enough to act on it.
Our collective wellbeing is calling out for this-desperately.
I've made the point before, but everyone is an artist and everyone has an art. This post is about two views of art. One is rooted in arrogance and the other humility.
I find it strange and sobering when I encounter an artist who is arrogant. I can say this because of the days of my own arrogance. Not to mention, my current struggles with the subtleties of arrogance. My struggles are rooted in the arrogance of my own knowledge (often torn down when I learn something new) and the age-old practice of not slowing down. The beauty of this struggle is in not surrendering and to be found fighting.
The big take away for the arrogance view is that it prostitutes the glories of art. When an artist begins to take credit, look down-upon or just ignores, there is a serious problem. If truth be told the artist is very insecure and can't handle the beauty in their hands. Crazier still, the artist usually has someone in their lives to keep things real. Man, is that like a glass of cold water on a hot summer's day. But often the artist will banish those folks, out of fear, the fear of being exposed.
The view of humility is rooted in hope. I know it is for me. A hope that I can become what is pure and lovely. That all my mistakes don't make it too late. That if I embrace humility, I will be given a second chance to create something beautiful. Maybe a few chances, if I just remember the gift and remember what I could have turned into.
Yes, it is difficult to have and hold the view of art that is humility. It surely means you'll cry, your heart will break and the world will laugh at you. Most of the truly great artists have experienced this, often in anonymity. Humility is the surest path to art that will make you happy and make you alive. Anything less, is akin to sleep walking or living-death.
One of the greatest hindrances of living your life well is the tendency to listen to crowd noise. The critics, the fearful, the rigid, and it goes on and on. Learning can certainly come from crowd noise, but it's best not to linger there for very long.
I see a disturbing trend where I live. The world is shaping up to need artists and many are acting as if it is calling for redundant task work. Prepping to understand what your art is can be difficult because its supposed to be. The riddle is summed up in not only finding your art, it's also the input that goes into making it.
The connection between the life well lived and our unique art is inseparable.
As time has moved on, I still am, and do desire to continue to be, an artist. The level and notice that comes my way always changes. Absolutely fine with me. I am an artist creating daily with words, with ideas with love, and with my life.
Many years ago I allowed the Matrix (corporations, people, religion, and more) to convince me that I was not an artist or someone wired with a lot of imagination and creativity. It whispered ever so softly that I needed put the "art" away and remember the importance of security. It almost worked, but I wanted and got my life back. I write the following with great emphasis:
Get your life back! Whatever you must do, get your life back.
Now, here are the lessons I've learned in this motion picture:
Go slow and start small. One more time, go slow and start small.
Most people are not going to like you beyond the surface. Your life is not about the surface, so get on with it.
Ask for help.
Know what's most important to you, not to anyone else, as be commited to those things.
You can't make people happy or ok, even those you love deeply.