Tag Archives: creativity

From the Heart, In the Heart—the essence of One Quality Note

A young jazz bass player, a student at Berklee in Boston, posted a facebook status that  a) allowed me to remember again why I do what I do and b) embodied the principle of One Quality Note for me.

Marika was playing background music for a marriage proposal (which in and of itself is a great idea! kudos, young man— and lucky woman!) and she said it put so much in perspective.

What’s Important in Music?

Here’s what she wrote:
Playing my best on my jury or in an audition (or whatever ‘meaningful’ situation) is cool and seems so very important at the time, but it matters most in real life, in moments of the heart… I’ve never played a note more earnestly than when I saw what was going on…

It then occurred to me that I don’t keep at this music thing every day for the sake of being a virtuoso or some musical freak of nature. It’s all so that I can be a part, to the best of my ability, of moments like that.

“Playing My Best Matters Most in Real Life”

Ain’t that the truth!

It doesn’t matter so much, really, in those situations where others are there to judge us. All the accolades and awards in the world mean nothing if, in those real life moments, we detach. Money, awards, accolades, fame—nothing inherently wrong with them. It’s what we value, what is truly important that matters. And at the end of our life, we’ll be more grateful and better for the heart connections we’ve made than for all the hardware we’ve collected. The two are not connected.

The Value of Being Earnest

There can be no faking earnestness. I’ve come to enjoy and appreciate this word a lot lately. I appreciate earnestness. Earnestness has solidness to it and stability. Marika said she’d never played a note more earnestly as when she saw what was going on.

Why? Why would this moment be any more special than another?

When our heart is activated and we can see meaning in a gesture of great love or great significance, we become entrained in that vibration. When we become entrained, the wave, the signature of that vibration, gets bigger. When people in a group are on the ‘same wavelength’ it’s not just a saying; it’s the truth.

If all the musicians in Marika’s group that day also played their earnest best… then imagine the force of that proposal! Magnification times awesome!

Make Every Moment a One Quality Moment

I love that Marika uncovered this stupendous truth: that making one’s best music (or any other ‘thing’) in real life is when it really counts.

My hope, too, is that she and all of us can aspire to live each moment with that same earnestness and attention. It requires attention and presence and understanding the love that is behind whatever is happening.  It requires practice. It requires a willingness to fail, because, well… it’s an aspiration and we have to take small steps towards that idea.

Small Steps

Marika has taken the first step. She recognized a moment when she was fully present to the awesomeness of the moment and was able to act on that presence with full awareness. That, in itself, is brilliant.

Every time we recognize and lean into one of “those” moments. Every time we leave our inner critic and inner chatterer at the curb and bring all of our parts together, we take another small step into that earnestness she spoke of. We can take another step into living our life as One Quality Note.

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Beyond the “Follow Your Passion” Paradigm

As I was mumbling yesterday about the whole “follow your passion” career illumination theory, I went poking around for other words that might work better. Words are important. We need to use the right ones and I was saying that I didn’t think “passion” was the right one. So.. what did I come up with?

 

ZESTY ENTHUSIASM
“Enthusiasm” came up in several of the quotes that I listed in the post. “Zest” was another one. Both were interesting and have possibilities— and limits.

 

Enthusiasm was originally connected to religious fanaticism, but it’s more common contemporary use is for “strong excitement or feeling.” It can refer to ardour, zeal, fervour, ambition, alacrity, obsession, eagerness, and yes, passion. It can also refer to a short-term enthusiasm or buzz— a one-hit wonder, or cultural blip in popularity.
OK, helpful and needed. One must have SOME modicum of enthusiasm for one’s work, wouldn’t you say?!

 

Zest and other food-related words seem to have more oomph! Other than the lemon zest variety, listen to these wonderful foodie words that have migrated to describe “an enjoyably exciting quality.” Piquant, relish, gusto, zing… and then… keen, invigoration, stimulation and thrill. (thanks, Merriam-Oxford Dictionary)

 

I’ve focused on these words for a bit because, really, the words we use are important. The foodie words above certainly give us bright shiny images in our imagination. While imagination is mucho importante, I’m still not convinced.

 

We toss “passion” around so flippantly. I wonder if it’s become so popular because it immediately grabs us by the gut and pokes at our emotional centre. These words are evocative and who doesn’t like to evoke a provocation?

 

“Passion” has a flame to it. And if people are sitting on their laurels, pining after their dream job, then, maybe lighting a fire underneath them is a good start.

 

But then what? As one reader here pointed out, passion burns out. The reader was commenting on relationships and expecting fireworks all the time, which was not my point at all, but it’s pretty hard to stay full steam ahead merely on a hotly lit match. Something else is required.

 

STEVE MARTIN TO THE RESCUE

 

Steve Martin

Steve Martin (Photo credit: lincolnblues)

 

We all need a little Steve Martin in our lives!

 

One reader posed a link to an article on <a href=”an excerpt from Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love.” title=”Steve Martin’s Advice” target=”_blank”>lifehacker in an excerpt from Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love.

 

And there—well, a start. SKILLS! And then ACTION! This SHOULD be a blinding flash of the obvious, but it isn’t. Maybe if we said, “Act on your passion,” it might help. It could also get someone killed (as in “crime of passion). In any case, the big problem with the phrase “follow your passion” is that you can follow it all day, over hill and dale, to the far reaches of the earth and over the rainbow, but unless you grab the darn thing and DO something about building the skills that will make you valuable and useful, it’s a useless, nay wasteful pursuit.

 

Steve Martin’s advice was to “Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You.”

 

And being so good that “they” can’t ignore you requires work. The day-to-day kind of work that we all hate at times. As any successful person will tell you, it’s the daily grind of showing up and doing what you don’t really feel like doing all the time. And doing it over and over and over and…

 

Well, it’s a start. I’ve kind of got the “P-word” problem resolved, at least in my head, but I know there’s more.

 

Still need to focus myself on what I’m to do with the next part of my life, though! More later. In the meantime, I’ve absorbed all the time I’ve allotted for this little passion… have to go act on the list of other things on the list that inspire zeal, fervour, eagerness and zing in me today.

 

Comments welcome! We really need to sort this thing out so more of us can get our butts in gear (and our ‘buts’ out of the way) to make this world work better.

 

I’ve Just About HAD it with “Passion”—

Live your passion!

Follow your passion!

Find your passion!

Is it just me or has the word “passion” become cliché? I’ve been listening to Raymond Aaron’s Gold Bar of 100 interviews he’s done (which I’m loving, by the way); I’ve listened to Tony Robbins, to Oprah, to webinars, teleseminars, to audio books. I was reading The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau this morning. They toss of the “P word” like a frisbee for a dog. It’s driving me nuts.

Maybe it’s my upbringing where extremes on either end of the spectrum were actively discouraged. Maybe it’s my inclination to follow the Buddhist injunction to do everything in moderation. But to me, passion is about over-the-top, blind to everything else, extreme emotion.

In fact, the first three definitions of passion? 

  1. strong, barely controllable emotion.
  2. intense sexual love or desire
  3. an outburst of anger

THEN we get to a “strong enthusiasm.”

I went looking for “passions”… I know there are connections to the Bible and found an extraordinary list by Saint Peter of Damaskos, who gathered them from scripture. There are a LOT of them, including (in no particular order)

harshness, malice, greed, gluttony, stupidity, flattery, lack of discrimination,

laziness, dissipation, loquacity, boastfulness, secret eating (and solitary eating),

ignorance of beauty, heartlessness, throttling, and, um, hanging. (good to know)

Good things gone way wrong.

When I hear “you have to follow your passion,” the gut reaction is almost palpable. “Cliché! cliché! Stop with the cliché already!” I want to scream. When things become a cliché… my brain just turns off.. and then I go think.

So, I went looking for quotes on passion, to see what I might be missing. Surely, it can’t be all bad. If so many people are talking about passion, there has to be something to it, doesn’t there?

“Passion is in all great searches and is necessary to all creative endeavours.” W. Eugene Smith

“Passion is the genesis of genius.” Anthony Robbins

“Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.” Georg Wilhelm Friedrich

“Great dancers are not great because of their techniques; they’re great because of their passion.” Martha Graham

OK, I can handle this. But look…

On all these pages of quotes on passion, there were also other wonderful ways to talk about this curious energy.

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  Howard Thurman

Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. ” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Huh… “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm”…and “Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.”

There’s more.

“It isn’t success after all, is it, if it isn’t an expression of your deepest energies?” Marilyn French (author)

“The main thing is to care. Care very hard, even if it is only a game you are playing.”  Billie Jean King

OK, I can get into these.

Don’t ask me what my passion is as I’m likely to throttle you. Ask me (or yourself) instead:

  • what are you good at?
  • how would you spend your day if you didn’t have to worry about money?
  • what did you want to be when you grew up (think back to your 8 year old self)
  • what do people ask you for help with?
  • where do you go first in the bookstore?
  • what kind of seminars, workshops, conferences, or talks pull you in?
  • what do you click through to on facebook?
  • what makes your heart sing and your body tingle?
  • what is an expression of your deepest energies?
  • what do you care very hard about?
  • what are you doing when you lose track of time?

Answering these questions tells me much more than the over-used, over-hyped, over-indulgent “P-word.”

Please….don’t talk to me about Passion. Dig deeper.

I Think I’ve Broken My Brain—and Invented a New Word

Are you a hyperlearner? Maybe it’s hyper-learner. I think I just made up a new word. Hyperlearner. And it’s not related to “hyperlearning,” which is education made possible by using technology and “hypermedia,” which is a system in which various forms of information  (data, text, graphics, video,audio) are linked together by a hypertext program. And “hypertext”  is… well, never mind. It’s not connected to my definition of ‘hyperlearner.’

So, here it is. Sharon J Little’s official definition of ‘hyperlearner.’

A hyperlearner is someone who constantly crams huge amounts of information into the brain, through various media, such as reading, webinars, teleseminars, CDs. A hyperlearner has an educational CD in the car, has filters in her inbox for each of a dozen or more authors, speakers, coaches, mentors who teach on a wide variety of topics within one larger topic. This hyperlearner tries to read, listen to and watch everything; typically she does NOT have the same kind of filter in her brain as in the inbox. A hyperlearner could be seen to be trying to learn too much on too many things in too little time. A hyperlearner is, by definition, overstimulated, overinvolved, over the top, about learning.

This is not just your typical lifelong learner. That would be a lifelong learner; someone who keeps the brain in gear,

Lifelong Learning

Lifelong Learning (Photo credit: Stephen Downes)

exploring new and interesting things, la de dah … de dah…. de dah….

A hyperlearner absorbs more information than a monster sponge. Holds onto it and then wrings it out in all kinds of ways—speaking, writing, teaching, seminars, workshops. But before the wringing comes the overwrought! The over absorption. The point after which not one more speck of information can be absorbed…. and then, the hyperlearner tries to suck in more.

Raise your hands, hyperlearners.

The sidebar to the constant learning is the inner demand, determination and directedness, which leads the hyperlearner to think that one cannot take a break. Or, rather, that breathing, doing a little nothing, listening to a little music or taking a full day off just to dream and think and sort it all out, is ,well, a waste of time.

Now, I KNOW that it’s OK to take a break. I know about walking, about smelling the roses (or, at this time of year, the composting leaves). I know about tai qi in the morning and having tea. And I do all that.

The problem right now is that I’m so interested and excited about what I’m putting together, that I don’t want to sleep, I don’t want to break. I want to dig in and get all kinds of content written and interviews set up and teleseminar series created….

And I will.

But today, before I launch into concert week and shore up some PR and get the groups focused on the last few things to get together…. I’m giving myself a break.

Not in the “You deserve a break today” (remember that McDonalds tune in the 70’s, which I don’t buy and which I think was a curse of an ad campaign, leading a generation of people to think they “deserve” things. That’s another post…) but in the… “It’s OK. You can take a day off and NOT hyperlearn. It’s not an excuse to let it all go. It’s needed and OK and everything will carry on. Just STOP” kind of way.

And I just bought the domain name… http://www.hyperlearner.com

Don’t go there… there’s nothing. But I’ve got the name. I’m gonna OWN this!

“Sometimes you just need to give yourself a break and do nothing.”   Sharon J Little

Stop. Be Silent. You’ll Be More Creative.

We’ve all heard it and we’ve all ignored it to some extent or other.

Meditate. Find a quiet space. Be in solitude. Sit.

We all need it; we all know we need it. And yet, we’re more likely to get hyped about drinking all that water we’ve been told to guzzle or about visualizing our dreams or about adding value to everything we do in our business than this. We’re likely to spend more time doing our makeup or washing our car, updating our status or cuddling with the cats than taking the 20 minutes needed to meditate, or to sit absolutely still, with no agenda, or to walk through a park on the way home. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

We’re more focused on the technical aspects of building our business, or the skills needed to teach the children. We attend meetings, network, connect on facebook. We listen to webinars, dash to the gym, get trapped in the agendas of others through the inbox. Children take music lessons, gymnastics class, play hockey and have play dates (really, WHAT IS THAT?! Can’t they just play?!)

We’re too busy and yet we can’t stop. This talk has been going on for at least 40 years: in the 70’s we started talking about stress and we developed stress “management” techniques. We might be able to manage the stress, but we’re still stressed. And getting sick of and from it.

We must Stop.  Every day. Sometimes we need to stop for several days and unplug. Apart from vacations, which many times is just another excuse for being busy somewhere else.

The Point of Silence

For the musician, the artist, the writer, the creative, the silence is the ground. Everything comes from a silent centre. That centre, the soul, infuses us with the energy— that creative, soulful energy—which has inspired the creative impulse in us since the beginning of life. Since the beginning of the beginning.

Recognizing the Soul

We can recognize, though perhaps not name, that soulful connection when we see it in a leader, a teacher, a conductor. We can recognize, too, when a conductor or a teacher has not done the necessary inner work: we can’t name it, but we can sense it.

Be Do Be Do Be

… while many musicians have developed highly sophisticated technical skill, and teachers have developed highly sophisticated teaching methods and strategies, they are devoid of the very spiritual energy which has provided creative impulse in humankind since the beginning of life. One simply cannot grow as a musician without serious and profound work on self in order to access soul.

The search to find and understand soul must be the foundation for all musical experience. It is to that end that every musician, regardless of ability or calling, should commit his or her entire being.”

from “The Musician’s Soul” by James Jordan (p. 46)

What I wonder is… if this is so important, why

a) do we hide the process of our journey from others

b) don’t we talk about this more often

c) do we spend SO much time in school on the doing.

I know of very few musicians, music teachers or conductors who have a defined, focused, regular, intentional—yes, that’s it, intentional— spiritual practice.

For the record, when I was teaching in school, I took the bus, biked or walked. This gave me time to focus, to unwind, to get into a rhythm. When I took the bus, I got off a stop early and did tai chi in the park, or went into the gym to do it. I did a 10 minute meditation every morning for most of those years.

Now, my practice is longer and involves writing, meditation, reading and qi gong. Every day… about 57 days out of 60. I consider it mandatory.

The excuse that “there’s no time” is bogus. Create it. Spend 5 minutes less on Facebook or Twitter. Get up 15 minutes earlier and really get UP. It’s a choice and we have control over this part of our life.

Make 10 minutes of quiet alone meditative space a priority. Every day.

I Can’t— and You Can’t Make Me

One of the most difficult energies to work with is the one that says, I can’t, I won’t and you can’t make me. Whether it’s a child, someone in your group… or yourself talking to your Self.

This position, this attitude, this asana creates a huge wall of resistance that is difficult to tap through. And it’s not for any reason other than

a) fear of what it would take to break through and/or

b) fear of what’s on the other side

Stifled, stopped, stagnant. Full stop.

When you can say “I can’t— yet”  the passage is made easier. The group can work with it. The Self can work with the self.

Fear diminishes and the way opens. If even for just a little bit.

I Can’t…. YET. But I will.

Let’s begin the dance.

Doing It Cause I Said I Would

NASA Sees Hurricane Sandy as the "Bride o...

Pre-Frankenstorm, which isn’t going to hit us directly and which is a better word than Frankenweenie, I think. Sunday night. Rain. Cat on forearm, anchoring me, connecting with me, purring.

This, Day 13 of my 30-day post a day challenge, is an exercise in persistence, commitment, discipline, imagination and learning. Nothing more and certainly nothing less.

At this point, I don’t care about links, about comments, about new likes or follows. I don’t check. And if you’ve liked the  a post,  or follow the blog, thank you and I’ll check in on your blog at some point. But right now, this is for me. I need to do this. And I need to write something of . At least for me… and maybe for others. If it’s of value to you, let me know. If not, that’s OK, too.

What IS this?

I decided to post something every day for 30 days, starting on October 12, the new Moon of Libra, come hell or high water, the latter of which is much more likely and indeed, were I living in Wawa, Ontario, or in the path of Hurricane Sandy, would be even more probable. I could ostensibly beg high water if I wanted to quit. The hell part, well, that could have been in BC had the earthquake been stronger and/or further south.

This is meant to establish a rhythm, a steadiness from which I can expand. It’s manageable and doable. If I set the bar higher, it would be difficult to succeed. Small wins, small steps towards a more productively creative, a more predictably creative, a more prolifically creative life. Writing is part of that.

I seek to live an imaginative, creative life (and I blog off and on about it here) and I’m trying to get my soul-infused act together, which means, for me, to create rhythm in my life and to be consistent about things. Oh, and to not get so distracted by… well, pretty much anything. The problem is I’m interested in everything and have some capacity to manage many things. And so I do. Or, I did… more than I do now.

But , I still try to put too many things in a day. Even today. Once I finish this, I have a meditation to do, which I should have done earlier today, but didn’t, and there was more, but I’m committed to doing it…and so…

I do  this, and mark my steps along the path with stickers as I wrote earlier. No one would yell at me if I stopped. I could stop. No roof would fall, the world wouldn’t end and I could start something new.

But I won’t and… I won’t. Somewhere in me, and it’s been going on for a time this year, there is a deep-seated drive to do more, other, better, different, beyond, what is possible and potential not just probable. I have a clear vision of where this will lead, but am not sure yet of everything that will carry me there. I do know that I have to do this. Now.

Tomorrow is the Full Moon of Scorpio. Following this cycle and rhythm is part of the need that I’m meeting— using the energies of the time to move myself forward.

My astrologer friends have spoken about the following in connection with this full moon, in no particular order. I add them here just as fodder for thought.

  • Scorpio brings the hidden into the light
  • it’s the sign of death… not necessarily physical, but, yes, that, too.
  • the esoteric keynote is Warrior am I and from the battle I emerge triumphant
  • the US presidential elections always occur during Scorpio (wonder what it would look like in, say, Taurus or Leo… or any other time!)
  • this is a time to truly choose the spiritual, soular, higher self path and battle the forces that would keep us more engaged with personality distractions and lower drives.(quelle joie!)

Bottom line: can I/we live from our higher principles, no matter what… come hell or high water?

I’ve chosen a particular head of the Hydra to deal with during this Full Moon time. You can read a bit about it here. And, like this challenge, and the other daily practices I’ve committed to, I am going to battle this one to … its death.

Frankenstorm… referring to what could happen when the storm that just passed us and Hurricane Sandy get together for a meetup— a pretty good name for the Full Moon of Scorpio time,   I think.