Posts tagged impermanence
Live Music is my Drug of Choice (The Eternal Pursuit of the Sweet Spot)

Some things are meant to exist in a single moment, then never again. It's easy to forget that in the world of instant gratification, social oversharing and permanent documentation we live in. I'm grateful for the ability to capture memories and chronicle the stories of our lives, and I use it to my advantage daily. But that makes us readily able to forget what doesn't need to be broadcast to a bevy of followers and what should be actually, genuinely over when it's done.

When we recognize those moments, they tend to cause us to pause and soak it all in. That makes us more present and appreciative. They're the moments that make us feel more alive, knowing that we're really, truly experiencing them, often with other people who aregaspin the same room as us. I often have to fight off my own urges in order to experience these moments; I've been jamming with other musicians only to fall into a killer groove, creating a spontaneous burst of euphoria that my less-enlightened instincts want to record and have forever. But reaching for a recording device takes me out of the moment, and once I decided these moments are supposed to exist then and there and should dissolve into the ether after they've passed, they became more meaningful to me. They became a brief high that served as a nice reminder of the impermanence of everything.

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Now Is All That Matters

I was staring irrelevance straight in the face, and I didn’t like it. The conversation began innocently enough: We’re in an interesting time musically, I was explaining to a friend, because popular music as we know it was created at a time that has allowed us to see an amazing amount of creative innovation, but recently enough that we don’t have to be completely overwhelmed with the amount of music we could potentially explore as listeners and performers. (Though sometimes I still do feel overwhelmed when trying to cover enough musical ground to feel as though my grasp of music history is reasonably comprehensive.)

I told my friend that with the Internet allowing thousands of indie and self-released artists to find their way into my listening space these days, I do find it challenging to keep up to date with the trends. Imagine, I postulated, how hard it will be to feel encyclopedic about music in 50 or 100 years. There won’t be enough hours in the day; there will just be too much music to sift through. You could never feel like you’ve been exhaustive in your listening experience. I’d be so stressed about hearing as much music as possible and connecting all the dots that I’d probably never relax enough to actually enjoy the music I did hear. I sure am glad I live now and not then, I told him. What a privilege it is!

I sat there feeling satisfied by my position in the universe when he lobbed the bomb at me: “In 50 or 100 years, it won’t matter. None of the music that’s important now will have the same importance then. It will be as relevant as the music from the 19th century is today.”

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Artistic Naiveté

For anyone who’s living a life of creative pursuits, being realistic about our chances of making it to the next level isn’t something that we generally take into account. Like I said in my post about the romance of the ideal a few months ago, most of us tend to live life with our heads in the clouds, and maybe one or two toes scraping the ground for good measure.  After talking with a friend about the inevitable umbrella of naiveté that we musicians have to live under, I realized a few things.

There are two kinds of artistic naiveté. One is good, and one is bad.

To be fair, it could be argued that both are bad, but nobody who has devoted their life to pursuing near-impossible goals like musicians and artists is going to lock horns with me on this one. We’ll leave that to the folks who are always wondering when we’ll grow up and get real jobs. Anyway, the good naiveté is that which we use to ignore the odds of turning art into real income. I’ve been playing in bands since I was a teenager, and I’ve been spending the better part of my last five years working on developing my current band. As much as I believe in the music we’re making, as good a band as I think we are, the simple fact is that the law of averages is against us. For every band that makes a living from their music, there are hundreds that never even came close. Maybe even thousands. And being good is no more a guarantee to your success than being lucky. Being smart about your music career is a must, but that’s a topic for another day.

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The Romance of the Ideal

Every once in a while, we all get filled with hope for some romantic notion in our lives. It could be about a personal dream, an ideal, or, more literally, an actual romance. It’s inevitable, really, and it seems to be in our genes to romanticize and fantasize—why else would we have entire industries (the film industry for one) built around it? Most of us would claim that we want to be realistic, but there are certain moments when we don’t want to allow ourselves to let go of that romantic notion we’ve created. Usually it’s because we’ve actually seen it happen in some way, shape or form in other people. For every person who has repeatedly said that life events simply don’t happen like they do in the movies, there is someone else who has seen a real “Hollywood moment” that seemed to be plucked straight out of a screenplay.

 

The Blurry Line

 

I myself live on both sides of the coin. I claim to live my life on the general principles of logic and rationality, yet continue to find myself embracing the fantastical. I’ve always wondered where to draw the line between keeping my feet on the ground and my head in the clouds. There’s obviously no hard and fast answer (although I love Will Smith’s take that surrendering to the “real world” is the quickest path to mediocrity, which you can see in a great video compiling his philosophies), but the more I think about it, the more I realize that you can’t draw a line where the edges are blurred; if logic is black and white but dreams are colorful, trying to find the middle ground seems futile.

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