Please use a discerning gaze when reading these claims, which deserve critical examination. This documentation represents a snapshot of my internal landscape at a certain point in time in my life during my collegiate career.
Is music a creation of mankind, or did Humanity just notice a much deeper and larger pattern in reality? Everything I see is defined by humans for humans, at least in a cultural sense; here, in saying a cultural sense, I mean the collective culture of all of humanity and our natural progression, unfolding from nature. As we evolved, we began shaping the earth for our benefit.
So, in studying music and language, as well as my own awareness and relationship to the world, what am I actually doing? What is this process of deepening experience and growth? What are encounters within reality?
All of my life I have been learning to communicate through different languages, more languages, perhaps than I am even aware of. Recently now, I find myself aware of a constant deepening of the universe’s tendency to communicate.
So, it seems, you and I, we talk about and around something much vaster and greater than either of us could ever hope to say. Life is in constant interconnection and communication, gauged against remarkably impossible uncertainty.
I understand a “this,” a “that,” and then the potential of interaction between those seemingly separate elements. As we interact, banter, and encounter, we create an exchange. The use of Taoist tendencies towards opposites, as in black and white, allow one to both establish and shatter patterns of habit.
Patterns can deepen and grow, or they can shatter and recycle completely into something new.
Every choice I make either strengthens, transforms, or destroys patterns. Every choice I make does something else entirely.
If I start getting locked in a pattern of stagnation, I can apply eastern principles of opposites to the stuck pattern to transform the perspective.
In just talking to @Tyler Aukerman, I was inspired by some of his experiences with breaking patterns. When he gets locked down in playing, he’ll listen to some recordings and transcribe a chorus of a solo for inspiration on any standard or tune he is working on.
If playing becomes locked, listen. What situations can I apply opposites and balance to? What are my patterns and habits? What am I “stuck” in?
(Write down, compose licks.) (Here we have a little side note to myself.)
This entry is clearly orbiting around an ongoing interest I hold in Taoist philosophy and the study of Yin and Yang. Starting just this year, I’ve begun to actually engage with and read the I Ching (Linked here is the Translation my teacher recommended for me, for anyone interested). I’m still in the beginning of my first read through of the text, and I recognize that my understanding is still quite undeveloped now. So when I wrote this in the early 2010’s, this lack of awareness on the subject is even more pronounced. Even still, I was quite taken with the philosophy and ideas in ancient Chinese thought back when I wrote this entry.
At the same time, I was quite readily attempting to apply my cursory understanding of Empowered Language from Mark England – who I have definitely cited previously on this blog. It’s funny, in retrospect, to recognize how much of an impact Mark made on my life in less than a half hour of conversation. That one encounter completely shifted my perspective and approach on how my mind uses the operating software of language to tell myself stories about the world. Thanks Mark.
The result of these two elements – a flowering interest in ancient eastern philosophy, as well as a radical reexamination of my use of language in my relationship with the universe?
The original entry above!
And for just a little more background on the circumstances and context that invited me to write this original entry – At the time I was actively studying Japanese and instrumental Jazz at the University of Toledo as an undergraduate, and was also beginning my own personal exploration and practice of Zen Buddhism.
If I were to place the original entry in simpler terms today, I might boil it down to this:
- Who am I, really?
- This universe clearly expresses opposites, as documented in ancient Chinese philosophy, as in Yin and Yang.
- How can I apply this ancient wisdom directly to my life now, especially as an artist in the ongoing development and refinement of my craft
- How can I directly apply this wisdom to my development as a human being?
- How can I fully engage with every moment, regardless of the contents or my reaction to it, transforming it into fuel for deepening my practice?
These all look like damn good questions to me.
As for answers or takeaways after all these years?
Well, first, I want to thank my teacher Jay Rinsen Weik for reminding me of the usefulness of the study of Yin and Yang, as well as for reminding me that our understanding of their relationship continually morphs, changes, and grows as we do.
Then, if I do become stuck in the creative process, I have an entire arsenal of remedies that I’ve collected over the years since I’ve graduated, embodied on an “inspiration alter” that I have in my office. It looks like this:
And, posted above it, some ways of getting “unstuck” that have been useful for me:
My practices for unsticking myself are continuing to evolve. Now I might also include: Playing some Xbox for an hour, Practicing scales and permutations, taking a run, connecting with my girlfriend.
The creative process and the development of our lives is an ongoing project; hopefully the project of a lifetime. And I do have to say, it’s nice to have traversed the gauntlet of University Music School and come out on the other side. There is so much less pressure to achieve and more freedom to explore and speak.
What practices do you use to unstick yourself? Do some tend to work better than others? Do you feel recharged with you practice, or does it drain you? I’d love to hear!