art of listening

Experience, learn, always laugh, sometimes cry, repeat. by Nick Bullock

week 6 Experience, learn, always laugh, sometimes cry, repeat.

Some people love to say how difficult their chosen "career" can be. They complain. Sometimes it comes in the form of a joke, sometimes their words and actions straight up drip with venom, and sometimes its a subtle comment of desperation and frustration.

It's usually easy to imagine, feel, honor, glorify and visualize our next grand accomplishment in the career of our dreams. But that's not all there is to it. What does it mean to follow your career path? It means if it's true, it will be hard. If its TRUTH, it will be the hardest. Follow your instinct, follow your gut, follow your dreams and they are guaranteed to lead to hard times. But if they are really your truth, you don't have a choice anyways. So, if we choose to go the hard way and follow our truth, then we do it intentionally with the knowledge that we are not going to have a breezy stroll down career street. We can, however, learn to discipline our minds and hearts over time. We can learn how to honor our feelings of self doubt and frustration, but not live in them. We can start to take command of our subconscious. And slowly over time, we get really good at what other people might call having a thick skin, or "no worries". Its really just the ability to deal with in a healthy manner, all the negative bullshit that surrounds following your truth.

So, experience, learn, always laugh, sometimes cry and repeat.

ps: for week 6 of 52 in 52 go to https://soundcloud.com/nickbullock/grand-design

Patience, Wisdom, Courage and Strength by Nick Bullock

Cartoon girl:guitar Strength (from Webster's Dictionary): the quality that allows someone to deal with problems in a determined and effective way

Strength is easy, it's really about taking action. Do it. Whatever that is. That is having strength. It has nothing to do with size, and everything to do with intent. To dare to dream is great, but it's in the first step, and the second step that strength is shown. So write your song, book a show, show your face... it takes strength to make those first steps (as well as every step there after)

Courage (again, Webster says): the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous

Yup, strength's big brother. Before the step can be taken, you need to come to a realization that you are not doing what you were put here in this planet to do. This might be one of the hardest things to admit to yourself... "yeah, I don't love my job, but it does have great benefits" etc. I'm not shitting on anyones desires to lift themselves out of poverty, or anyones goals to make more money, but money is just energy, and so is courage. It builds until one day you say "f the benefits, i'm miserable". Whether your happiest when writing a book, or poem, or acting, or singing songs or whatever, courage is recognizing that steps (strength) that need to be taken, and admitting your truth. And doing it everyday if need be.

photo-7

Wisdom (Webster's Dictionary): knowledge that is gained by having many experiences in life

That's the thing... experiences... you don't know you love acting until you have the unique experience that comes with it. The first time I saw a guitar player doing his thing, I thought it was really cool. And, as a small child at the time, I remember thinking I wonder how you do that... Where are those sounds coming from? Fast foreword about ten years and I have the experience of picking up the guitar for the first time, and the wonder and frustration that comes with learning a new instrument. Fast foreword another ten years and I have the experience of going to school to study the instrument, and playing my first professional gigs with it. Maybe, beginning to build a little bit of wisdom on how to use the guitar properly, for me. Another ten years, and I have all the experience and wisdom that I have now (and i'm still working on it!). You can't fake passion, passion doesn't start with knowledge, but it can go hand in hand with wisdom. Without all my experiences, I wouldn't have cultivated whatever knowledge I do have in my early thirties about playing guitar, being a professional musician and making music. Without that wisdom, I wouldn't understand my passion nearly as well as I do, and I wouldn't be able to do what I do... Without the experiences and wisdom gathered, I would be lost. Even with courage and strength.

Patience:

More often than not, this is the one that I struggle with the most. But in all honesty, it might be the most important. When you're playing a solo live, improvising your way through with your band mates and friends, patience can be what makes or breaks the experience. When you're in the studio, searching for the right tone and part, patience is the saving grace, other wise you settle for less than what your creativity is demanding of you. When you're writing a song, patience is being able to take a deep breath, and stay present and with it until you've figured out the next line in the story you're telling. It's also knowing a good song when you have one, and not becoming negative about it when the first person you show it to/play it for doesn't loose his or her shit and have a come to Jesus moment like you think everyone one should. And patience is being able to smile and relax when you are meeting someone who wants to help you along your path to success. In this case, it's the comfortable pair of jeans that never looses its popularity, because patience tells you that you are worthy of success, and it doesn't really matter if the person you are meeting with right now actually comes through or not.  patience is being in it for the long haul... the long game.

Queen Cartton

*clearly none of this artwork is mine

Ego is a Stubborn-No Good-Rotten Tomato by Nick Bullock

ego 1 The Not So Obvious 

Have you ever struggled with the balance of ego, and humility. I know I have. Every time I get on stage I wonder how many people will come, will they like (love) me, and what does it mean if they don't. Is it even ok that I'm feeling these feelings? These are all small bits and pieces of my ego poking through. We've all been told, or tell ourselves to not worry about that, just go out there and be yourself, and do your thing. Sometimes this is easier said than done. The ego here, is playing hide and seek with our own sense of self worth. We all want to be loved.

ego 2

The Obvious

Then there are the obvious ego jerks, and we all know the type. Truth be told, we've probably all been guilty of this behavior at some point in our lives. Most of us learn that it does now pay to be a dick. On the surface it doesn't pay because everyone will look at you with daggers of judgement in their eyes, sometimes behind your back, sometimes right to your face. On a deeper level, it doesn't pay because (even if we're super rich and famous and trick some people into liking us) we are just robbing ourselves of meaning by covering up our vulnerable insides that we all carry. And that vulnerability is the good stuff.

ego 1

The Stubborn Ego

Then there is the pesky and persistent ego. This kind says, "even though nobody likes these polka songs I write, I know they are the best thing ever. I just don't understand why the record companies, music supervisors, and booking agents don't get it?". It might be true that those polka tunes are the best ever, and if you are writing polka songs purely for your own artistic expression, then more power to you. But if you are trying to have some kind of measurable success, then you might want to drop the ego, and say "my polka songs are great, but they aren't for everyone, maybe, if I want to be a professional musician, I should be open to other possibilities". I know for myself, I am constantly struggling with this one. Do I write/produce/record for you, the listener, or me the artist. I'm learning slowly but surely, that there is a possibility of me doing both. Either way, I think it is very healthy to be open to all possibilities, and not let ego cloud your vision. Sometimes you can grow, learn and achieve amazing results, that you never would have thought possible had you been stubborn and only stuck to your "I want to be a polka superstar" mentality. Life is too short to be short sighted.

ps: no offense polka enthusiasts, you all rock. :)

first picture is from http://www.vine2victory.com #1, the second is from http://www.flamewarriorsguide.com and the third is from http://esotericmystica.blogspot.com

 

 

Listening: The Art of Telling a Story by Nick Bullock

Slowly but surely, I'm getting better at writing songs. It is a craft as far as I'm concerned, and yes, sometimes we stumble upon complete luck/grace/inspiration and we can write a great song that seemingly comes straight out of thin air. But even that scenario smells of sweaty preparation to me. So I practice, and I write a lot. The David was not created by a man who was picking up the chisel for the first time. We, as humans, learn and get better. We soak in our surroundings and even despite ourselves, we allow it all to influence us and the art we produce. Since moving to Nashville I've made it a priority to get better at listening to the new people I meet. Really listening, not just shaking my head and thinking of my response even before they're done speaking (which can be very hard to do). It is a skill that I think many people take for granted, and one that I want to get better at.

There is a wealth of inspiration that can bubble up when you meet someone for the first time, and hear their unique story, and not just hear it, but feel it. I want to start paying attention more, and capture that empathy, and maybe a bit of someone's story in the songs I write. I wonder if we could wipe away writers block if we practiced our art in the context of listening to the world around us.

When I really listen, I am also a better husband, friend, producer, musician, brother and son.

Writing a great song is often a result of telling a great story, and there are so many amazing stories out there.

Have you ever created anything after being inspired by someone's personal story or journey?

thebeatles     Dolly neal

Duke   stevie

BobbyD   barry