Before I start, I just want to ask……how are you doing? I asked this at the beginning of the pandemic and everyone seemed to be doing alright. But now after two years of some of the most turbulent times we’ve known, I think all of us have been shaken to our core in some way or another. So, if you’re feeling more or less than ok, let me know in the comments below. Maybe by simply sharing, it can lift the weight off your shoulders.
There’s been lots on my mind lately. I’m sure it’s the same with you. I’ve been watching the whole drama with Spotify unfold wondering how it will all shake out for creators and musicians like myself – artists who are not widely known but have a small and enthusiastic following. I’ll be honest, it’s a bit unnerving knowing how much work I’ve put into my career over the last 12 years only to have it potentially undone by things out of my control. With that aside, I'm letting the times we're in shape me as a musician, composer, artist and human.
I usually don’t take the time to speak my mind about current events. The reason why is I’ve seen all too often how speaking your mind evolves into a verbal slugfest over agendas and nothing really comes out of it except a bunch of hard feelings. I just don’t want to spend my time that way. Some would say I’m a purposely ignorant ostrich with my head in the sand and that’s fine. Call me what you want but I feel my time is better spent finding a third way and practicing that instead and for me right now, the third way is simply observing, taking in what I see and transmuting that into something that can show the beauty I see and feel in this world. This is why I post so many photos of the forest or nature, me in the forest or the Nature’s Kaleidoscope photos. It’s why I’m beginning to post more short video clips of music (pending technical challenges), and started vlogging, and look forward to sharing more informal music videos playing didgeridoo, singing or playing keyboard and maybe even throw in a livestream or two. I do this as an act of self-preservation and self-care and to stay out of those ruts of going round and round in arguments and to keep the peace in my own life when things get a little shaky. It's also what I can do to become the kind of artist who hopefully can show a different way.
I’ve been watching a lot of interviews with Amanda Palmer over the last three days. If you don’t know who Amanda Palmer is, look her up. She is a musician who has been showing me how you can make a commitment as an artist and stand in your light with conviction and be ok with it in the face of criticism. In this way, she has pointed me in the direction of being the kind of artist that can potentially have a profound effect. The kind of artist that can point a different way and asks “hey, what about this way?!” I have other heroes too. People who make their commitments to building a better planet, cultivating communities, or simply living more creatively. They fearlessly put out their art, photos, music, videos, writing or whatever that so highlights for me humans unapologetically living their potential and sharing it, warts and all. I love it when people do this for each other. To me it's like laying a blueprint for others to follow their own dreams and desires. So, I am inspired by them to commit and find my own rhythm to becoming more wholehearted.
This is not to say that I don’t feel the weight of anger or fears or frustration or indignance or even defeat. But rather than be swallowed up by them or get drawn into argument over who’s right and who’s wrong, I just stop, take a deep breath and a step back and start practicing this art of transmutation to see what I sort of beauty I can present as a way of finding peace inside and then presenting that peace in a wholehearted way. It’s a kind of an artistic tonglen (a Buddhist practice of taking in suffering and giving out peace through breath and meditation). What this does for me is help me find my center where I can work from and present the best of myself whether through music, art, photos, selfies, or whatever I need to share the beauty I see and feel in the moment. I’m by no mean a master at it but I am getting better and if there is one thing I want to leave this plane, is showing how others can practice this.
We have so much potential that is being spent fighting, arguing, pushing, pulling in anger, frustration, rage and grief. Ever since this pandemic started, it’s been like this great mirror has been held up to us to show us what we’ve become and we don’t like dysfunction of what we see. Nor do we like seeing our own fragility and vulnerability so we try to find someone to blame for it. But it's that fragility and vulnerability that can be our greatest gift to each other - giving each other permission to open up our heart and be real.
On a gut level, I feel we have a ways to go with sorting things out over agendas, beliefs and narratives before we can start to reckon and resolve with each other......or ourselves. This is why I feel it’s so important to practice this self examination and look at how I can shift emotions and then share that as an artist and fellow human not so much to come off looking like a saint but more to find a way to peace within and sharing it without. Perhaps somewhere in there, I can help lay that roadmap that others can use when they’re ready.
Thank you so much for reading this if you made it this far. And please take good care of yourselves and of each other. Because we’re all we’ve got right now.
Love you all
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