by pieces of moments
So, this post doesn’t really have a lot to do with music, it’s more about life in general. But yet, in another way, it has everything to do with music. Regardless, I figure it’s okay to digress into this territory because even musicians have lives.
Last night I watched the documentary No Impact Man about how Colin Beavan his wife, and young daughter, sought to live for one year making no impact on the environment. They went to the extreme, living without electricity, without toilet paper, only eating local foods, and not purchasing anything new. They cut out purchasing anything that wasn’t essential in a plastic bottle. They even stopped taking any form of transportation that wasn’t powered by their own bodies. It’s a little nuts, and honestly, I wouldn’t want to live to that extreme (I’m a big believer in wise moderation for most things), but I really appreciate that they did, and that it was filmed.
Today is February 1st. That means I am one month into my new years resolution, which was to “inherit my life.” By that statement, I mean that I want to step into my ideal existence on this earth. I was given this amazing, stunning, phenomenal gift called life and I want to make the most of it. I know it sounds like I’m going Oprah all up in here, but stick with me.
I guess what I’m trying to express is that I feel really strongly about living intentionally in this new decade. Now, if you know me, you’d probably think that I was living intentionally all this time anyway. Yes, in a lot of ways, I was. I was raised that way, and so I follow through as an adult in that mode of operation. But what I realized was that I had a propensity to express my intentionality by reaching certain goals, rather than just inhabiting each moment of my life.
For me, the statement that jumped out at me the most in No Impact Man was when Michelle, Colin’s wife, spoke of how, now that they were without electricity and thus without television and constant internet, etc., “the days just feel like they last forever.” They are spending quality time together as a family, eating healthier, living at a slower pace. They found that by omitting certain things they put back the pleasure of living into their lives. I mean, when was the last time that you felt like the day lasted as long as you wanted and that you filled it with people and things you really love, that are important to you? Do you have a “gratitude for small pleasures”? Aren’t we usually guilty of always crying for more hours to finish more work? I know I am. It’s not a new concept (“simplify, simplify, simplify“), just one we, in our endless modernity, forgot.
Okay, so what does all this jumble of thinking out loud mean? It means that as I continue to step into my adult life I want to continue to develop a sensitivity and consciousness for the speed at which my life is moving. Things tend to speed up without any prompting, it’s the slowing down that has to be manually applied. This doesn’t mean that I want to go without electricity, or toilet paper, or live as extremely as the No Impact family. It does mean that I want to be ever more conscious of how I am living, both in a physical and a metaphysical sense. It does mean that I continue to be thankful that my family encouraged me to embrace my creativity so that as an adult I can enjoy the fullness that music and the arts bring to my life. Music cultivates my emotional life, helps me unpack things, make sense of the world and the every day events that cross my path (more on this soon…it’s a project in the works). Music has it’s own speed and it’s slower than the internet or any other technologies that I love because they make my life easier and more efficient, but against which I know I have to guard because they could easily take over.
I’m all for arts advocacy. I’m all for (keeping) the arts in schools. Music makes students better at math? Okay, great, but so what? The arts encourage students to learn problem solving and determination? Great. But I think it’s more than that. Too often I feel like the arguments for “why” are not good enough, or as Henry James put it: “‘why’ was the trivial seasoning-substance, the vanilla or the nutmeg, omittable from the nutritive pudding without spoiling it.” The arts are the “nutritive” substance, not the omittable spice of life. The arts make us better at being human. I’m not claiming that’s a new or revolutionary statement, but I am claiming it is one that isn’t highlighted enough.
I know I’m kind of leaving you hanging right now by cutting off here. But, it’s because I’m still forming some ideas I’m researching along these lines.