I find it’s most difficult these days to be truly still and resoundingly empty like a huge stone bowl on a plinth. I’m getting better at it, but it’s taking a considerable amount of focus.
I seek to do this now because it occurred to me many months ago (years, even) that I need more information about several key areas of inquiry: the education and mentoring of young people; music and the practise of music; energies, their frequencies and the focused direction of them; and the all-encompassing idea of service, which is not necessarily obvious.
The approach I’ve taken thus far into the exploration of these things is the one I learned – from my family full of educators, from my piano and cello teachers, at University – an idea of ‘study’ which has become nicely embedded,
“I know how to learn. One does Good Research (source source source!), reads and digests the material one digests, places a clear and concise question inside this newer information and eventually there’s an alchemical moment of aHa. Then one writes and writes, which leads to know and do and take good action. If one does this for long enough, inquires for long enough, makes adjustments based on experience and further study, one becomes an expert, a new Source…”
It’s a decent formula for inquiry. But there’s no ivory tower anywhere around here – & my studio won’t do for this (Bob Dylan through the wall & a drum kit, my cello waiting right there to work with, those paintings, those prayer flags waiting for the next stage, that sewing machine which needs a tune-up…)
My head can only hold so much ‘live’ data, can only maintain its focus on that academic alchemical process for so long before I need to shut it down and buy groceries, schedule printers, figure out my part in the Stanford, pick up my kid in time for her appointment, and deliver the car to the mechanic’s.
It’s more than okay to be busy at 49, and a mom of a (great) teenager, and to have many gigs, lots of rehearsals & several students to prepare for, to be in the last stages of building a house with my husband, to spend time (though never enough) with a family I love, etc etc. I’m having a great time with all of it.
But I would very much like to learn & grow into a higher understanding of things, as a teacher, as a friend, a daughter, sister mom wife musician artist mentor. To hone myself, and so better serve.
So I’m intuitively working at what seems counter-intuitive: emptiness & stillness. How can I hope to find the unknown thing I’m looking for if I’m busy stuffing myself with information?
This came to me one day while I was practising – I was working away, working away at a difficult passage, thinking ‘this is crazy – I should absoLUtely be able to do this! What’s blocking me?’. As I thought this my shoulder, neck, arm and finger muscles became more and more tense and stiff, and my energy plummeted into something like despair (close to ‘I can’t’). So I put the cello down, and watered my plants. Then I worked a little at my paintings. Then I puttered and played with a textile art idea and got pulled into fascination with colour. Then without knowing it I was back at the cello, carrying no tension, playing a piece I know well – still thinking about colour. The notes I was playing had colours, the piece a big long skein of coloured threads flowing each into the next, weaving into fabric….
After what seemed like an hour of this bliss, I came back to the place of my old obstacle. In my mind I changed the colour of what I was trying to do, and it was wonderfully, measurably easier.
Empty of stuff I don’t need, to make room for what I do.
Still, so I can appreciate it.
Happy Wednesday, all.
K – hey neat – I just found this:
” Experience teaches only the teachable ”
…wonder if he’d agree …