SERIOUS FUN

ON THE THEME OF EASE in singing, life and other creative processes.  Should it be easy? Should it FEEL easy?  And if yes, is there a certain quantity of ‘hard’ work required before the sense, sight and sound of ease, appears?  Or is it, in fact, a WAY of learning? Flow. EASE. An experiment on a group of dancers with the Alexander Technique observed feedback from participants missing the sensation of EFFORT, feeling that it was TOO EASY to be right… Too easy. An addiction to strain, to the position of “I can’t”, to the feeling of being inadequate, can be a real thing of real consequence, as we see humorously depicted in the film What the Bleep do we know.

ON BEING PUNISHED FOR PLEASURE. For those of us freshly issued from Christian (?) heritage – though be it into Atheist or Pagan families – we may find internalized, secreted agents of judgement, tracking our pleasure and marking it down as SIN.  Suffering earns you a place in heaven, work hard, be humble and you shall be rewarded.  Do we ever hear “work supple”? If we are a ninja, we do!  As women, the added red flag on sensuality can have us curbing childhood delights, the deep sense of fun or intuitive pleasures. I realized recently that I take my art very seriously. Or rather, because I WANT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY, I have put a whole lot of SERIOUS into my creative processes, at the expense of my FUN.  A 3 minute slot appeared in my daily practice for pure vocal whatever (fun) recently. I spend it with glee… 3 minutes? That’s quite enough. Snap back to something proper – by golly – we can’t have this whole frolic situation getting out of control! Wow. Stay tuned on that minute rationing…

ADMIRATION is a double edged sword. It guides us towards our chosen stars. It shows us qualities we wish to embody, things we could grow into, but it can also keep us separated from them. By lifting someone else so high in our mind’s eye, we can find ourselves belittled, crushed beneath the weight of the impossibility, apologizing for our insufficiency, as we slouch to keep them above us, when we come face to face. This relieves us of the responsibility for maturing the work in real time, real place. It can be comfortable to be a victim. It can be comfortable to be small, when memories of our brilliance as children, come swathed in the shame we were given for being so fresh, fearless, bright and original. Whoever has worked with Julia Cameron’s Artist Way, can hear her in my words.

GOING NOWHERE because I am already there/here. Charisma is presence, is about being actually present. Bert van Dijk, theater pedagogue, runs fantastic workshops on this theme. Coaches on stage-fright speak of bringing your attention down into the lower back or the feet. Side effects include enhanced communication with your audience/community.  This is about lowering and anchoring our center of gravity, which, anyone working with martial arts, Tai-chi or Chikung will know, is an absolutely timeless treasure. Simon Barker and Carl Dewhurst run barefoot and are experiencing a deep influence on their performance as musicians. They speak of bringing our consciousness down into the body and so, altering the default to be one of continual release and reset. On running.

AN INVITATION TO THE FUTURE. Being a split second ahead. Hearing it before it happens. Is it possible to be in two places at once? In the present and in the future? Yes, it is. The conductor Valery Gergiev shows us that it is. You cannot start without me. Whether we are conducting, improvising, composing a new piece or delivering a traditional song in all its specific modalities, we must be both utterly present – releasing the past like a ninja – and already hearing the future. LOVE IT.

Treva 3

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3 thoughts on “SERIOUS FUN

  1. I relate to the childhood experience – not with shame but self-consciousness. Naturally acting in the moment, taking pleasure in the easy experience of working inside what I learned to label “talent” – unwitting, simply following inner urges to play; not knowing I was being watched, not intending to garner attention, unprepared for comment, “you could go far; you could even be a __________, if you worked hard at that”.. Being praised for the things that came easily, interrupted the pleasure of them with self-conscious expectations of continual betterment, of proving worthy of attention, deliberation with fresh awareness of “good” and “bad” creative outcomes, the grand AUDIENCE and ‘their’ approval/disapproval, and unsolicited opinions about my creative pleasure pursuits.. As a young adult I managed to convince myself that I cared not and pursued on regardless, but over time the layers and social contexts have all melded into a preference for the shadows, singing and creating in the dark, taking pleasure where I can, in the hidden folds of domestic life. Belting and wailing in the shower, creating pleasing beauty in the kitchen, capturing moments sketching a sleeping child.. Indeed, my creative pleasures have become so personal that I have almost lost the desire to expose them – perhaps that desire only existed as one of the many expectations I assumed responsibility for. Perhaps I was destined to be here: giddily in love with the beauty in the eye (“I”) of this beholder.
    Thanks for sharing your process Tui – not only donyou create fulfilling reading, but your words today have prompted my own reflections, bringing a more resolved sense of ease with being as I am, rather than ‘as I’m expected to be’.
    Blessings to you as you journey.

    • Thank you for sharing that Angela Frank. You write like an extension of me, that I could never write – haha – because I am not you, but I am you. We are part of one fabric, one conversation, that folds and unfolds like a giant origami bird, bigger that the universe, but smaller than a lentil. Your words are alive and tangible. Please do occasionally (or often) ‘expose’ your visions from the shadows… They better (free) us!!

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