I'm on vacation. I'm staring at wave after wave crashing onto the sandy beach. I'm a lucky guy to be able to witness the millions of little happenings, lets call them experiments, that have over a long period of time brought about this particular sandy beach, ocean tide and sun shine into one masterful experience. I wasn't going to write a blog this week, but then I started reading The Rise by Sarah Lewis. I love vacations for lots of reasons, but at the top of my list, it allows me to kick back and enjoy catching up on reading and writing. Last time I had a couple of days of vacation I gave myself a challenge to finish three songs by the end of my four days off, this time, I'm being a little more relaxed about it all, not searching for perfection, but enjoying the process, and trusting it.
The Rise, at least so far, seems to be about the gifts that mistakes can bring to an artist or creative person as they develop. How mistakes, one by one, get us closer to achieving our goals as creatives. And that without them, we are worse off. Maybe a better way of saying that is it's not about the destination, it's about the journey (that old cliche!). I, as some may know, am not always a patient person when it comes to my career/creativity/destination vs journey... I'm not always patient with my own course of development.
We as creative American citizens/artists/entrepreneurs can and should be pushing every envelope we are given. We should be striving for excellence, and fumbling on the way. We should not expect the world to stop for our genius, we should instead seek to never stop ourselves from striving to discover our own genius. It is not about fame or money, it is about mastery. Perfection is a concept that is unachievable, and mastery is a noun, that brings forth memories of actions taken. Mastery is born from the ability to make mistakes and learn from them, again and again and again. I'm reminded of The Gap, an idea that was first brought to my attention by Ira Glass (http://vimeo.com/85040589). The Gap is the space between our current abilities and what we see our true selves being capable of, to put it simply.
I never knew that Michelangelo was famous for leaving works unfinished. But it makes sense. If completion is the objective then what is an artist to do once the job is done, cease being an artist? I know that with every song that I have written and recorded I am only giving it up to be released or to be put down on tape because I am ready to say goodbye and walk away from an imperfect and incomplete idea or concept. No song is ever finished really. I could and sometimes do drive myself crazy with nitpicking my work to death. Sometimes, more often than not, I am needing to move on, so the song is "done". This is how I track my idea of mastery, this is how I grow. And really, my ultimate goal is not to write a hit song, or produce a hit record, it is to be a master of my craft, a master of my tools. That is what really turns me on, and what gets me going.
And when I'm able to remember that I really do what I do (write, play, and produce music) because I love the inevitable discovery process that comes with wanting to master such crafts, I am able to take a deep breath, trust the process, enjoy the waves, breath, enjoy my book, and look forward with excitement to the good work that I am going to continue when I get back in my studio.
When I moved to Nashville, it wasn't so I could be a star, I moved there because that was where the biggest musical masters were from. So yes by all means, follow your dreams, start a business, start a band, paint a picture, try out for The Voice, move to NYC or Nashville, be an athlete. But do so for the love of the work, not to seek fortune and fame. Those things are fleeting. Do the world a favor, and seek to be a master. That is where greatness truly lies. That is what inspires people to change their lives and the lives of others for the better. The world needs more masters, maybe now more than ever.