I remember the calm silence more than anything, although we were trading licks. It’s the calm silence of music; the little pauses between phrases. You wouldn’t think the silence would be the most memorable part, but the notes? Who knows what either of us played. That’s not what mattered. We were speaking in music. I had taken lessons from him since I was 6 years old. He was my mentor, and now after 10 years of lessons, for the first and last time, we were playing together like real musicians do; jamming, thinking music out loud. Teacher/Student was irrelevant. The ensemble rehearsal had ended and I had stayed to work on a solo. Two snares were still set up somewhere for some reason. And we just started. Wordlessly. The music was the words; his notes said to me, “we’re both musicians now.” I answered back with something like “I’m not sure what I’m doing but this is sweet”. Each string of notes he played was like the elocution of a foreign language; beautiful, unpronounceable, but also familiar; the movement of his wrists and fingers was fluid and true. I probably stammered out a succession of rudiments. Back and forth, back and forth, trading 8’s, or 4’s, or single measures, I don’t remember. My internal dialogue was slowly subdued until I was not only speaking in music but also thinking it. My eyes are on his sticks and the drumhead, internalizing his phrasing, waiting an eternity of 5 seconds to respond each time. It lasted the entire night, and it’s still going. It probably lasted 20 seconds.
Music is more than notes, or technology. It’s intertwined with life and occasionally memories trigger it’s poignancy, often at times when the reminder is most needed.
Posted, deleted, then reposted because my brother thought I should
You have less to say than you think. You were in the process of growing up, simultaneously being hurt, hurting others and secretly looking for a way out. Your musical idols spoke to you; maybe they said, “keep going”, maybe they said “It’s all for s***”, perhaps “f*** it, just follow your heart (and by heart we mean the selfish gene).” Whatever it is they said, you listened, and you copied, and you vomited it back out. Your victims had to listen to your correctly produced three song EP’s, containing 2/3rds of the songs you’ve written, ever since you were at the ripe young age of 18 (you started writing after you graduated). Thankfully, you were socially adjusted enough to rope all your friends into paying for your “originals” and coming to the shows, and generally looking like they were a part of something. What that was, no one knew, including you. But you kept going; whatever it was your idols said to you back there at the beginning of the paragraph was your unconscious mantra, and you kept going. Generally speaking, you were able to prolong high school culture throughout college, and even after, perhaps going through a girlfriend or two, but staying safely away from commitment and the adult life your parents embraced. Afterall, it’s the 21st century, and everyone can be a rock star, anyone can play punk rock, so why not? Youth; worship it. If a few cursed souls are destined to walk alone and sing songs of life, love and death, then everyone can, apparently. How funny that the troubadour life is so attractive to those who would have found their life’s calling by staying at home and learning to love, learning to sing that only true tune until death, until the real song begins. Vain conceit and selfish ambition can only be tamed by those too scarred to worry. You have too much potential for love, for belonging, to throw it away in the name of self. Music kills impartially; the taste of holy blood is not for everyone. It takes one to know one, and apparently they never realized that the songs their idols were singing weren’t even art, weren’t even pastiche or luxury, but actual gifts of fear, longing and prophecy. If only they could have seen that these songs were written for them, to them, to the home base, the flock. No one wants the artist life; they just want to be understood, and to understand. Leave the telling of stories to the accursed, and sing us back home once all the stories are told. Everyone is equal.
My brain needs to detox. Sending emails to music blogs is weirdly exhausting. Plus I ended up working on new music the past couple of nights/mornings, which I totally should not be doing right now. But yesterday was the first time in my life I’ve literally stayed up all night writing/arranging/demoing a song. I started around 1ish and went to bed at 7. Seeing it light outside before going to bed brings the weirdest mix of emotions. Thrill, embarrassment, guilt for staying up that long, fascination…anyway. The song is probably the best thing I’ve written, at least from a strictly compositional and emotional standpoint, although the lyrics are fairly oblique, and kind of hyper-spiritual (way more conceptual and less personal than recent stuff). I have no idea where the vocal melody came from, it seriously gets me way too excited. I feel bad though, because I slept in past both church meetings I go to. But it’s weird to try to reconcile that with that feeling I get when I’m zoned in in the creative process…I honestly think the spirit channels creativity in me. It seems too weird to talk about though, which is why I never do. Posting it here where 1 and 1/2 people will read it is better, I guess.
"It was necessary, and the necessary was always possible."
C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet
“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one…” - John 17:22
This is incredible to me. Every body of believers I’ve encountered has some semblance of community with each other, but there’s always a tension between the demands of community and the desire for individuality. I’ve always struggled with figuring out what the appropriate balance should be between the two. How much time and resources should I invest in those around me, and how much should I invest in cultivating my own gifts and my own unique perspective? I think the answer is in this passage. “…that they may be one as we are one…” Jesus, fully God and fully man. It’s a paradox, and it’s true. Likewise: You, a believer, fully individual, and fully a part of the bride of Christ. Completely individual, and completely absorbed into the whole. Humanism would pull us one way, Buddhism the other, yet only Jesus can wake us up to the reality that we are fully both, just as the trinity is fully everything that it is. That tension between Christian community and individuality is difficult to navigate, but I think the best path is to fully embrace both. Some of us err on the side of conformity, some on the side of isolation, but Jesus asks us to meet him in the middle, and it’s only there that we can begin to know him, ourselves, and each other.
What I really want, what I’ve always wanted is adventure. The entire symphony of your life steers you differently, though. Fears – they pile up everywhere, and days turn to months, turn to college semesters, turn to seasons of depression, turn to seasons of learning. That sense of adventure I knew before all of this, it gets pushed down underneath all of it, but it doesn’t really die. And I don’t want it to, but I’m not sure what God wants. I think he wants adventure too, really. But maybe it doesn’t look like what I would expect. The weird thing though, is that I don’t really have a clear picture of what the adventure is that I want. I think it’s more of a mental and emotional disposition that I’m after, not an actual sequence of events. Freedom from fear; freedom from uncertainty. That’s what it is. I don’t want to let the fact that I don’t know the future prevent me from leaping into it with wide eyes and solemn, yet joyful resolve. Isolation, both real and self-imposed, wreaks havoc on my ability to do this. Anytime I’m with friends and family, I feel that resolve creeping back into my life. And at times too, when alone, I feel it. I feel it when God breathes musical expression through my trembling body, or when he sets off the match of infinite future possibility in the right side of my brain, gently nudging the left to hold his brothers hand, trying to make sense of infinity with a graceful quietude.
God, I lay down my culturally informed concept of what it means to be an adult, and offer you my whole person to fill with that holy resolve that you taught me when I was five, inventing worlds with my brother in our autumn-stained backyard. I commend to you the keeping of my body, the renewal of my mind, the healing of my spirit, the taming of my emotions. I offer back to you my future, though it’s already yours, and I laugh with you at the thought that I could ever actually hold my own life in my hands.