As of a few weeks ago, something has begun moving for me that I intend to build on.
I am, obviously, not alone in having had a very strange, and even stressful, 2016. It has also been quite a ‘dry’ year in terms of the deep creative work that I strive for. And while I tend to trust the bigger processes, I can’t help but feel like my own self may have gone off course a bit this year. In the same way I feel like the world has — at least from some perspectives. Judging the world is hard for me to feel any objective sense of. So I’ll just stick with myself...
I definitely feel like I let myself get over-extended in the emotional turmoil of the political churnings of 2016. And this has cost me something. It is fine line to walk between being an informed participant in democracy and being pulled onto an emotional rollercoaster each week. To be honest, I use to think I knew where that line was. But now I have to confess I don’t. Perhaps this sounds a bit desperate and overblown, but trying to keep myself informed seems to have had no effect on the democracy and has only cost me a ton of energy and sucked away time I could have been spent working with music.
This has led me to put in place some new strategies that I feel like sharing.
For 1, I’m going on a news blackout for the next four years. Not entirely, of course. But to a large degree. The mild to medium to frantic internal hysteria that gets generated from keeping track of the fucked up things of the world is not something I want to participate in. I’ve paid my dues here and am going to focus my “information gathering” to things that are directly relevant to my own work.
2. Following on from the above, I am putting a sharp guard on the heart of hatred that is just far too easy to get spinning in response to the dunderheads with too much power in this world. What I mean is, it is just too easy to generate hate. So easy that, at the end of the day, it is boring and not ambitious enough for me. There are plenty enough folks out there who can take care of my share of hate if it turns out I am slacking my duties by not participating. And while I don’t believe in denial, I also don’t believe in spending my energies this way. I am opting out of this for the time being.
3. Breathe in great works. I can't tell you how much life I feel coming in to me when I see an incredible piece of work. Film, book, music, performance, movement, whatever. I’m not talking about OK stuff, or well-intentioned stuff, or even good stuff. I’m talking badass, masterpiece stuff. The really good shite. I get fed in a deep way that is of a whole different order from the OK stuff. Something works on me from the inside-out as opposed to the outside-in. I am going to be spending more time with these kinds of works. Revisiting them again and again.
4. I am putting into my weekly schedule specific musical/creative hours. It is far too easy for my time to get taken over by business or all the fiddly secretarial duties that my professional life asks for. I can’t afford to ignore these things and I can’t afford to hire someone to handle them for me. And yet, I can’t afford to let them become my whole day, each day. Which happens more often that I would like. I am taking my own coaching advice and putting these hours into my weekly schedule.
These points began coming into place, mostly on their own, right after the US elections. I feel more like a watcher of them in myself, rather than the guy driving the ship to this particular island. It all feels essential if I intend to continue to be a musician. Which I do.
So far, the effects have been substantial. I have a whole new wave of energy in my work. I have a whole new body of work appearing. And I have wider sense of the process.
The last point to make is: where there is a real need, something must come.
For me this relates directly to this week’s work. I have been asked to open up (solo) for two of Stick Men’s shows the following week here in Seattle. I said yes, knowing that I didn’t have the material that I needed to do this right. But where there is a need… And, damn, if some new pieces haven’t come right out of the walls for this.
Best wishes to all.