Am I Thinking? Considering….

I often wonder about thinking, the process of thinking itself… is that odd?

What is it that people DO when they think? When people tell me they sit and ‘think about things’ or about something in particular, I’m a little baffled. I don’t know that I ‘sit and think.’ I’m not sure those two things go together for me.

When I sit and think, I think I mostly daydream; at least, that’s what I call it. I remember and, for heaven’s sake why, repeat conversations I’ve had recently. I wander randomly, without direction, through memories, images—people’s faces, band or choir rehearsals, for instance— small film clips of my past.

I wonder about things, too, at times. I wonder on my walk about how this poor sugar maple the roots of which were aggressively torn at when the township opened up the space on the little gully hill. Exposed, I thought this beautiful tree would die. However, it has adapted and it grew leaves and changed to exquisite reds this fall. And the dead roots are still exposed. I feel for the tree. I feel for the little lives that sacrificed themselves to the grating of the bulldozer. I’ve marvelled at the power of regeneration: the barren slope sprouted plants this spring.

Is this thinking?

Or is thinking when you choose a problem to consider and attempt to solve? Is it when you decide to create a plan for something and you think through the plan, setting it out in your mind and developing the steps to take?

Is thinking when you sit and consider just what your values are at this point and have they changed and if so, in what way, and if not, why not? Is thinking when you remember pieces and ideas from a book or books and you bring them together in a new concoction?

I don’t sit and think.  If thinking is any and all of these things, then I do think (hallelujah), but I walk and think. I don’t have full control over the thinking process, though. I may start out thinking about a problem or a new idea but within seconds, something in the process has alerted something else in my mind and I’m off on that tangent and then another. And then I have to remind myself what the original point was and see if I can focus on that again. Usually, I can’t for long.

If thinking is any and all of these things, then I think through writing. I sit at my table and start with a word or a concept and then follow my mind as it branches out and collects and absorbs all the associated thoughts and ideas. Lines are drawn, bubbles are linked, colours are involved and from that a new project or some clarification happens.

I’ve created businesses and plans and goals through my Morning Pages. My hand moves, without stopping, and even if I write blah blah blah blah blah blah blah for a line or two, or pen write keep writing go wood table cat in lap warm weather for a line or two, eventually, sentences emerge and ideas coalesce.

Is that thinking? Is there a way to measure one’s thinking? Its success? Does it need to have an end point? Should I gone into philosophy

Is the fact that I’m bothered by this at all evidence of some kind of helpful thinking process?

I’ll need to go ponder on all this.



The Hour Went By Quickly

I began today on a djembe. Even hands. Left, right, left, right, one, one, one, one. Both hands even. Breathe. Listen. Relax. Listen again. Go deeper. E-ven, e-ven, e-ven, e-ven. One, one, one, one.

It’s all One. Rhythms in 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 12… they’re all collections of one. With different emphases. Rhythms in 4, 5, 6, 7, 11… just altered combinations of 2 and 3. Played around with different emPhases on DifFerent plaCes! Got some sticks out and a practice pad and went at Even Hands again. Not so even! Ha! It’ll get there.

When I was a kid, I hated Hanon. Wasn’t crazy about practising in general, but the scales and exercises drove me nuts. I hated the limits. I wanted to play the pieces– a different kind of limit. Today I started again with Hanon and went through all major keys. Slowly, evenly— another childhood challenge. Today the limits were comforting and relaxing. They let my fingers find their place, allowed me to breathe, allowed my brain to process and re-integrate, re-learn the power of limits.

I’m working on Moment Musical (Opus 94. No. 4), by Schubert. I chose it because the right hand pattern is one upon which I can improvise easily. Rather than sight-reading it and learning it by my quick learn method, I’m going at it in sections, singing as I play, getting the singing pitches right, feeling the spaces between my fingers, the places where my fingers need to stretch, or change order. Feeling the place where my  fingers need to think and listen and feel. I haven’t even looked at the third and fourth pages yet.

But I’ve played the sections, noticed the differences, played right hand alone, right and left hands playing the right hand… it’s been fun! Huh.

I want to work on melody creation. Creating a good melody, a theme that I can remember—at least for the duration of an improv—one I can come back to. That’s how I ended the hour today… finding a melody I like and playing around with it.

Kinda like life.

I already feel happier.


Finding the Mus(e)ic Again

The challenge for any artist is, primarily, to show up to one’s art. There are all kinds of ways not to show up. Doing the dishes, hanging out on email or facebook, working, watching TV, taking care of the family… the To Do list goes on, as does life. Then you wake up at the end of your life and realize- you didn’t become the artist you wanted to be. And it would have been so easy.

One of my ways has been to find interesting jobs that take time and a number of talents. Work that pays the bills and allows the creativity to move. Managing a farmers’ market, writing and strategizing for a cultural non-profit, teaching music lessons, starting a youth band, founding a women’s choir.

Ten years ago I graduated from the Musicianship & Leadership Program with Music for People. It was four years of growing, personally and musically. Four years of driving 2 000 km, four times a year to workshops. Four years of Homeplay, teaching, facilitating, thinking and busting through, over, under and around obstacles. And thanking them for the opportunity.

In my head, I knew I could make a life and a living with this. But I haven’t. Detours, Distractions, Dilly Dallying… it’s all added up to a very interesting, imaginative, musical, artful, creative life, but My Music -I’ve ignored it. Completely. Serendipity would have it that I created some work for this month and next— two days of work in a school. This past weekend, I spent a weekend coming out of the Shadow Artist role I’ve played, knowing I’d been missing making music. I made the trip to my first Music for People weekend since 2000.

I celebrated my 10th anniversary of graduation with 3 others who graduated at the same time, on the weekend of 10-10-10. Four new grads joined us, making it 100 MfP grads to date. The numerological significance of this did not slip by me.

At home, I wandered around our bush, on a sunny Thanksgiving Monday, camera in hand. I sang into the woods, I kept silence as my friend, I listened to the leaves rustling— and tried to imitate the sound, I made some photos, thought about “Art” and, let my mind travel.

As one job has ended, time has been released. With harvest in full swing, the house will be empty much of the time. I’ve reduced the number of teaching hours. We’re heading into the quiet season, the deepening time, the period of going inside.

Today I began the recovery process. Along with my meditative and study  practice, I’m committing to spending 1 hour each Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning… making music. No phones, no computer, no dishes, mail, cleaning, making lists… just music.

And I will see where music takes me over the next two months.