Get out of your own way
My wife asked me yesterday, if you were to teach "Creativity", how and what you would teach?
It makes me think about the things that I learned in last 4 years of grinding. When I say
grinding, I mean, developing, training, practicing and researching the groove, musical execution and excellence.
It started in early 2013. When I had a chance to meet an award-winning producer at an apartment near Opera House in Sydney. In mid 2013, shortly after my Japan trip, which opened my eyes to who I am, I quitted my secure job. (I was a General Manager of Asia of a International corporation at that time) then went on to pursue music down to melbourne, which I'll write about more in detail later.
I will write about the journey of my research & training in depth later but today I want to write about the latest revelation that I've found which changes the way I approach music and even life. When we strive to make better music or do better job, be better person. We literally strive. We try hard. When I sit down on my chair to make a beat, I watch all these top-notch artists videos and see how they are playing keys, or making beats, what's their posture like, how are they playing, what's their body movement like, how are their body counting the down beat etc. I put so much effort into this and I had so much disappoint because no matter what I do, I couldn't get the sound I want, I couldn't play the notes that has all the waves and time and space within. I was only able to play what I call empty and flat music that is full of jerks. Notes are jerking all over the places. It was frustrating. I went through so many tutorial videos, videos of the artist (Alicia keys, purdie, Barry Harris, 9th wonder, Kanye West, Scott Storch and much more) I like playing keys and drum machines. I would even download the videos on my harddrive, then slow it down in attempt to see the movement of their arms, body in slow motion. What are they doing that I am not? What do I not know?
Well, and I asked cried out to God for many days for many years, I guess I didn't cry out to him but I cried out complaining, blaming Him for making me the way I am. Why do I like the things that I can't be. Why do I hear certain music and sound that I can't make? It was hard. It was like a painter who sees all sorts of colours of the world yet can only paint in black and white and striving to find how to paint in colour. Doesn't this sound crazy? A lot of people would go, what they heck is this person talking about? My life was in pain and disappointment for a long time and I would never want to go through this again. It was really hard because I had to get up everyday and go to work which takes 2-3 hours of travel time each day and sit there and do what I considered "an easy job" that I had no inspiration working towards. I did this for over 1000 days. I would ask myself, if I can spend all these time practicing and finding out how I can play music that I hear "good", I am getting old, what am I doing here at work? and it really takes a toll but I know I am capable of performing well at work but because my mind was fully occupied with the research and music, I couldn't be who I am at work. When other colleagues were making steps upwards, I didn't because I didn't put my mind to it. I would spend the most of my free time at work researching music. Now I look back I don't think I was smart, not that I am dumb but the emotional imbalance has limited me to think with narrowmindset. And it was especially hard when my body got weekend and got sick. And my wife was sick too, she was much more sick than I, and further more, she had so much stress from her work, she didn't eat anything for the whole day until dinner time every day. She would have to go through all kinds of issues like indigestion problem and many other issues for years, for years... which I'll talk about some other times. Seeing her sick face was the hardest thing I ever had to go through, much harder than me feeling sick. I'd ask her to leave her job.. but anyways this is for another time. Anyways.. we put our hope in God. We made many wrong mistakes but God kept drawing us closer to him. I am not worthy for his love, but somehow He drew us closer and kept guiding us through this time. Especially through the sermons at Church on Sundays, he really spoke to us directly and so relevantly, encouraging us, giving us the truth about the sitatution, drawing my wife and I together as a unit. What I want to talk about today is that yesterday at the sermon, the pastor has talked about getting wisdom from God. Asking for insightful mind. Long story short. I asked for God's insight and wisdom over our sitatuion and over our future (My wife is about to quit her job, hoping for better future, when there's going to be an immediate financial demand early next year... it sounds like a gamble doesn't it but we have no choice). Anyways, with music, this is what he thought me. Ok so here we go. The wisdom is that I should stop striving, stop trying, but know how to rest, know how to relax, know how to do less. What? I should stop striving? What about the musical excellence? how do I get that? How do I make awesome beat if I try less? That doesn't make sense. But this actually made sense for me. So when I play beats or keyboard, if I relax my torso, my shoulders, my upper arms, forearms and fingers and just let the gravitity do the work, the music was more abundant. (not sure if this is the correct expression). When I try more, my body was more stiff, more I used my muscles, more it put tension and prsessure on my body, more I had to fight against the gravitity and there was more of "I" but less "music". Music is God's creation. When I get out of own way, then the music shines more. Does this make sense?
Here's an example: "Less of me" vs "more of me me me"
I am thinking, LIFE is same. more I get in my own way, more I am lost. I just want to thank God for his guidance and his wisdom. I am continuing to seek his wisdom and insight today because I have to accept that I am so far away from being perfect. I don't know shit. I don't want to pretend that I know shit. I just think God is good. That's the vibe for today's thought! Peace.