Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Moments of Divine Procrastination




Those of us who write or paint or sculpt or make music or weave baskets have that dreaded moment.  No, not the one where you've had that long-awaited breakthrough at the same time you're stuck in the bathroom.  I mean the one where the ideas stop flowing and you've suddenly dried up.  You may call it a block.  For me it's a giant steel reinforced concrete wall that surrounds me. 

Words are flowing, characters are telling me the story or in other circumstances the paint is painting itself,  the song is writing itself or the figure emerges from the stone and I feel like  I am merely the conduit plugged into the divine field of unearthly creativity.

Then it all goes away like someone on the other end hung up the phone.  This is when we panic because the whole project crumbles in the anxiety-ridden mental dust heap that plague the creative mind.  When it strikes you're tempted to believe you're the worthless being you've always said you are. I've learned though, from my own self study and the study of other creatives that there is only so much you can shove into the funnel at once and then a great mental burp happens. 

At that moment I rely on procrastination not as that dreaded foil of the undetermined but the forced break required to reset the circuits of my brain.  I know I've been thinking on one thing for too long.  I put it down and if the mood strikes I'll try one of my other never ending creative projects like the model airplane that needs another coat of paint or I'll plink around on the guitar or make a few doodles. 

But sometimes there's no room upstairs.  My solution is usually the beach.  I plotz myself on the sand and listen to the waves until I can find the rhythm.  For me, even a bad day at the beach is better than a good day almost anywhere else.  I try to simultaneously engage my senses and disengage from everything.  I sift sand through my fingers, collect shells for my shelves and fill my hat with water and pour it on my head while trying not to think of how many people around me just peed in the ocean.  I listen to the wind, much on a sammich and wait. Just wait.  Soon enough I feel the knot untie and words flow again.  Maybe you have a beach and maybe you don't so I'm interested in where your sanctum is. 

However...

There are times when I can't get to my sandy sanctum sanctorum.  I'm going to share something with you (and for you) that I don't tell just anyone.  When I know I need to shake up the connections I reach for the headphones.  There's a song in my life repertoire my mother gave me many years ago.  As usual, she didn't know she was giving me a gift, she was just playing an album she liked.  As a boy I internalized it's infectious groove. The album is Everybody Loves The Sunshine, a 1976 release from jazz vibraphone legend Roy Ayers and his band, Ubiquity.  The first song on the record is this fast paced jazz funk number called, Hey, Uh, What You Say Come On. 

It fades in as a simple question, "What you say, come on?" in a chorus of voices that repeats and  builds over three minutes and 46 seconds of foot stomping, booty shaking (yes, I just said that), bass thumping funk to a command that has you bopping all over the house singing, no demanding at the top of your lungs, WHAT YOU SAY, COME ON?!   Translated from ultra cool black 70s funk into modern nerdy white guy it's, "Hey you! Wake up, what better thing are you doing now? Nothing, so let's go!"   I my head I'm surrounded by the album cover version of Roy Ayers and all of Ubiquity in yellow t shirts tossing me lemons (see pic) and nudging me on whatever adventure awaits (usually with tacos and tequila, thus the lemons, naturally).

By the time the song is over, I'm sweating, my pressure is up, my body is sore, I'm half naked and I'm ready to go anywhere these guys want to take me.   Six or seven rounds of this and I've made my step goal, burned 7000 calories, sweated through my underwear and find my brain as open and receptive as its ever going to be. 

Some may call it procrastination.  I call it part of the  necessary Cranial Recalibration Assessment Programming that goes hand in hand with the honor of being given the vocation of Dream Chaser. 

Included below for your usage is the video/audio of one of my secret weapons.  Try it.  I dare you to.  If you don't find yourself happier, more lubricated and open then you simply don't have a soul.  And I know you do. 

What you say, come on?


2 comments:

  1. I don't consider myself a creative, so I don't necessarily need to chase a muse. BUT, music is most definitely the answer to many of life's problems. So we are in agreement of the importance of music! It feeds my soul even when I didn't know I was hungry.
    ~Katie

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    1. Oh but I disagree...you write, you paint nails and that's just from what I know of you. You qualify, you're one of us. And that line, "It feeds my soul when I didn't know I was hungry", that's poetry. Don't sell yourself short, bub.

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