Lessons From A Global Shut Down

My life has been like speeding down a highway in my van at 120MPH. For some reason, I felt like I had to keep going faster and cover more ground. Then one day, the road disappeared, and there was nothing. Suddenly I was in free fall. I was scared at first, because I couldn't see any bottom, and I couldn't feel anything familiar around me. But after a while, I realized that I wasn't falling, in fact, I wasn't anything—I was just being. That was 5 weeks ago and my life will never be the same. 

I've done a lot in my life and accomplished many goals. But even at my age—I turned 65 a week ago—I still felt like I had to not only accomplish more, but to accomplish a lot. In reality, I had unknowingly backed my self into corner with no way out. Instead of accomplishing a lot, I was actually accomplishing very little, because I never finished anything. Instead, I flitted around from project to project, like a hummingbird moving from flower to flower. While I did a lot of wor…

Art In Uncertain Times

While we always seem to live in uncertain times, today, with the Corona virus sweeping around the world, things are even more uncertain.

The end of the world as we know it.
Businesses are closed. Events are canceled. People are being asked to stay home and avoid contact with others. If you are a performing artist, this is especially difficult, as you are not able to go out into the world and present your art. Not being able to perform means not making any money. And that make an already difficult situation even more so for most of us. Many artists are barely able to keep ahead of the bills as is. 

And in the grand scheme of things, we, the ordinary people,appear to have little control over what is happening. 
But we have control of our art. In dire times, artists continued to create. Artists also continued to tell the truth. When all around you seems to be crashing down, you still have your art, so continue to create because at times like these we need the arts. We need our humanity. But …

The Gift of Time

Here we are, it's March 16th, 2020, and we are living in extraordinary times. It's amazing to see how our modern world can be stopped by something we cannot see with the naked eye.

People around the world are being told to stay home and self quarantine. For many, this is a confusing and depressing time. Our world has become so fast paced that we often forget how to slow down. Our lives are just rushing by.

If you are an artist, I challenge you to take advantage of this gift of time we now have. All those projects you meant to get to when you had the time, well, the time is now. Instead of sitting there wondering what is going to happen tomorrow, get to work today!

Every artist seems to fantasize about taking an artist's retreat someday. You have been given an unprecedented gift of time now to work on your art:

Compose that song.
Write that book.
Paint that painting.
Design that dance.
And on and on.

And all those things you wanted to learn, like using that new software, or some oth…

Wherever You Are is the Path

Both in our artistic and spiritual practices, it's easy to sometimes look at our lives and ask, “Why am I here?” And it's also easy to chastise ourselves for being where we are. “You're a failure” may come to mind, as you survey being stuck in what you perceive as a dead end, a mistake, or an opportunity lost. But is it really?

Being an artist can be a very myopic situation. We may just look at ourselves and where we are, then compare it to other artists that we feel are successful and ahead of us. But it's too easy to look at a successful artist and only see them as their current success. We either don't look at, or ignore, all the same types of struggles they went through to become the success they are in our eyes.

Everybody struggles.
Everybody hits dead ends. 
Everybody has projects fail. 

The key is to realize that these are all part of your path. They are not separate. 

Wherever you are is the Path.
There is nothing that isn't the Path. But the Path isn't go…

Art As A Spiritual Journey

I'm always walking a path. This is especially true of my art. It's always a work in progress/process, because I can never really reach a point where I can say, “That's it. That's all there is to know and do. I can't go any further.” Because there is always more to do, to know, to understand, to explore.

And this is deeply locked into my spiritual journey, as the more I know my art, the more I know myself. Unless you only work on a surface level, your art is a very personal and deep expression of you, of what you are, of what you are becoming. I can't separate my artistic journey from my spiritual one because they are one in the same. Maybe other people can, but I can't.

The Journey Is The Destination

This journey is like a river—it twists and turns, rushes and recedes, floods and even sometimes dries up—but it is always flowing forward toward some unknown destination. Or maybe there really isn't any destination, because the journey itself is the destinatio…

Remember to Breathe

Most spiritual and esoteric traditions have studies that focus on the breath. That is because the breath is everything. Think about it. If you stop breathing, what happens? You die. 

But what if you only stop breathing for a short time? Well, you die just a little. Or more specifically, your body can seize up and stop functioning at an efficient pace. Systems will start shutting down and you will experience problems in doing things.

One problem that I have found in myself, and other artists I have talked to, is unknowingly holding our breath when confronted with some sort of problem or decision. Surprisingly, when things become difficult, we often do the opposite of what we need to do: we hold our breath instead of deepening our breath.

When we hold our breath, our muscles tend to tighten. This can cause various problems. Besides making our movements stiffer (especially fine motor skills), tightened muscles can restrict the blood flow, which then affects all of our organs and systems, es…

Moving Beyond Boundaries

We can't help but be a product of our upbringing, of our influences, and of the things we find enjoyable. I know for all of my musical endeavors that I am a sort of focal point for the things I have encountered over my life. You can find that with any artist. You can't be what you're not, unless you are seeking some artificial commercial success (some people call this selling out).

The Scope of All Things

For me, everything is focused through the lens of being a musician/percussionist, as well as a writer. While for the past 40 years I'm mostly self-taught (autodidact for you Europeans reading this) in both music and writing, my younger years in high school and university were filled with intense studying with a variety of teachers that gave me a solid foundation to build from. 

I still study today, but in a much broader context. My study in music is not limited to percussion, but encompasses many other fields that ultimately inform my percussion playing. After all these …