Gang, I hope you are well. I know I have been quiet here on the blog for some time, and I have actually been been missing writing for you, and for myself.
Here is an update to let you know where I am at mentally, creatively and spiritually (today is March 6, 2018.)
Today I am using my blog as a journal to help clarify and organize my thoughts.
If you want to join me on my journey, you are invited to follow along.
The Overall Lesson
I’ve learned a strange life lesson from what I am about to describe to you.
As cliche as it sounds it is this: “what got you here may not help to get you where you want to go next.”
On a creative level, it’s tempting to just repeat what has worked in the past.
One’s technique must of course be developed over time, so you need the past; but when the content is the same as past content, pretending to be spontaneous, it’s like a comedian writing the same “funny” joke every time.
It gets old.
The present moment is the source of true creativity. It’s that blink of an eye before concious thought even happens…that’s where creative secrets reveal themselves.
Sure, we can pretend that we are being present, but when are just re-hashing old material it’s a lifeless echo of what was once the real thing.
First, a Story to Illustrate.
Imagine a young, innocent kid enjoying playing piano, lost in the joy of the now moment.
Suddenly, her parents see this love and talent and try to “capture” it in a bottle.
At the next Holiday gathering the parents urge her to play for the family, neighbors and friends.
The kid plays, and the audience loves it. And, she gets a taste for everyone’s love approval.
She becomes attached to that love and approval.
Music becomes the means to that end.
But, what’s happened to the love of playing in the first place?
Innocence has been lost.
Hence, the dilemma of every creative person who decides to become a professional.
Taboo – Calling out the Truth
To look at the truth means to look at the 3 big fears.
#1 the fear of losing survival
#2 the fear of not getting approval
#3 the fear not being in control.
Survival is the main fear. Approval and Control are the little siblings of the main fear.
All of our fears, insecurities and issues are filed under one of these 3.
Stymied by the Inner Critic – Even Before I Start…
I have been pretty silent on Youtube and on the Blog out of fear. Embarrassing, but honest.
Since I have had a few “epic” videos and blog posts, it’s a fear that I won’t live up to a standard that I’ve set for myself.
The fear snuck up on me, uninvited and unexpected.
Youtube started as a wide open creative outlet for me, I put up whatever was moving me in the moment. Hits like “Superstition” and “Billie Jean” were not calculated; they were simply the music that was alive in me at that time.
In posting the videos, I had faith that the joy I felt would bubble over and be felt by the viewers.
But afterwards, when I saw what “worked”, what got hits, brought concerts and students, I thought “Aha! All I have to do is recreate this success with another hit…”
Sure, this idea can work. And yes it’s good to have a system and not re-invent the wheel every time.
But, as Dr. Frankenstein taught us, humans can’t infuse life into matter…that’s God’s work.
Put differently, the magic of the subconcious mind is far superior to the calculating, conscious mind.
To replace creativity with cleverness squelches out the true quiet voice, the curiosity, sponteneity and true wonder of the NOW.
What was once an open sky of possibilities suddenly collapses into a very narrow range of choices.
Putting the Creative Cart Before the Horse
I hadn’t even realized that my evil inner critic has stepped in, unwelcomed.
Let’s give him a name…”Darth.”
Darth often told me “Hey Adam, if it’s not going to be epic (video or blog post), don’t even bother creating it.”
He invaded my creativity on Youtube and my blog.
When I started posting to this blog, I had quite a few rambling articles (like this one) where I got to churn ideas, mull over concepts and gain insights.
I didn’t care if they were “epic”…I just wrote.
And through the writing and sharing I found joy and a feeling of accomplishment, and got to know myself and my ideas better.
Sooner or later I saw that articles like “8 Tips for Playing Fingerstyle Guitar Without Mistakes” took over in popularity which I of course wanted to re create.
Like Youtube, I saw that I could perhaps follow a formula and have my blog posts be more popular.
Darth’s “dont even bother” philosophy snowballed…like:
- “A blog post that won’t be popular? Why even write it?”
- “A Youtube video that won’t go viral? What’s the point?”
- “An original song? Whaddya kidding? Do a pop arrangement instead.”
- “Jazz? No one will understand it, don’t bother.”
- “Playing with a band? You’ll earn way less. Stay solo. Plus it’s too late to start something new.”
- “Upcoming concert? You had better just play the hits people want to hear.”
- “Composing? Don’t make it too jazzy, people have to understand it.”
- “Learn how to play the styles that other people play so you can show them you are competent. Then you’ll really get their approval!”
The mind, wishing to calculate and recreate success in all areas actually started to silence the very curiosity that was the source of the success in the first place.
That’s the mind “wanting to survive.”
I say “the mind” because its just the good old reptilian brain at work.
Taking Action…and Courageously Leaping Back Into the Unknown
In the last month i have successfully told Darth to shut up and take a hike.
I feel much better.
Here’s some of what I have undertaken in my journey recently to reclaim my creative space, creativity, joy and wonder.
1 – I’m taking a touring break.
Why? If all I do is keep practicing and playing the same tunes, the same way, with the same sound, and playing the same show, I’ll just get more of the same results.
I never thought I’d want to take a break from touring, but I do.
Fear that I faced: “What’ll everyone think if my tour calendar looks thin?” (Approval)
Mission accomplished. I followed through: I decided September, October & November are tour months. That leaves 9 months free for students, creativity and musical nourishment.
2 – I recently created a video course for musicians on the best way to use Youtube, Facebook and Email marketing.
This was a really fun creative project, I got to play with some new software and it’s infused with the “love of my fellow man.”
I really hope I will help some of my musical brothers and sisters with their online promotion.
Fear that I faced: “What’ll they think if I show another interest?” (Approval)
“If I try to sell this will people think I am a huckster?” (Approval)
“Will they discredit my music if I speak up on another topic?(Approval and Survival)”
Mission accomplished. I followed through: I finished the course. Soon to be released on StudyWithAdam.com as a free bonus. We’ll see what happens after that.
3 – I just had my first band rehearsal in over 10 years!
It hasn’t felt like 10 years which is frightening.
Feels like just yeaterday that I played with bands. I found some killer musicians locally and started dusting off some of my old blues, funk and soul tunes. We’ll see what happens.
Fear that I faced: “My audience wants me solo, why bother doing a group? How will I sell it?” (Survival & Approval)
Mission accomplished. I followed through: I called the musicians and had a great rehearsal.
4 – Don’t laugh. I recorded a hip hop tune here at home with myself rapping and playing the drums as guitar percussion.
Maybe it’ll just sound like a 49 year old going through a mid like crisis, but that’s exactly my point.
Darth says “it’ll just’ sound like your midlife crisis song” – but now I am finding the strength to tell him to buzz off.
Fear that I faced: “What will my fingerstyle guitar fans think? They may hate rap music and stop taking lessons from me…” (Survival / Approval)
Mission accomplished. I followed through: I recorded and mixed it. Dunno if it wil ever be released, and it doesn’t matter.
5 – I am doubling down on good stuff.
- Meditation 30 minutes a day, almost without fail.
- Cutting down on Netflix. (I had gotten sucked in by ‘Homeland’)
- I’m down to zero Facebook & Youtube watching.
- Checking email only twice a day.
- Hitting the gym 4 times a week, and I boy, feel better.
Sometimes, The Result Doesn’t Matter, the Creative Space Does
The cunning mind, the marketer mind and the result oriented mind won’t grasp this. It’s a different energy completely.
It’s not that I’ll force my creations down anyones throat.
It could be that none of them fly once they are released.
It could be that they are never released.
Whether they succeed is not the point!
The joy is shaking off the limiting thought patterns, and allowing creativity to run wild, and telling Darth to f**k off.
Thank you for following me and for reading this decidedly un-epic blog post.
By the way – I am reading DEEP WORK right now, and I highly recommend it.