Whoa. Almost two months with nary a post here. Those who do this more, ummm, seriously/successfully would no doubt consider that a bit of a boo-boo, but… well… all I can say is, time flies when you’re having fun! The show I’ve been playing has been somewhat more all-consuming than anticipated, on both the time and energy levels, and so my whole online life has taken a bit of a back seat. So it goes.
I’ll return to that subject in a moment, but first: happy holidays! At least, for everyone that celebrates some sort of holiday around this time of the year. Not being particularly religious at this point in my journey I’m not tied to any particular celebration, but I did grow up with a strong family tradition of celebrating Christmas and, well, old habits die hard.
I definitely do feel that it’s important to take time when the days are shortest (and here in Berlin, they get pretty short, but I know there are lots of folks who have it worse!) to think about and connect with friends and family both far and near, and to mark those connections with gifts, feasts and festivities.
And so we have done. I hope you have been able to as well, and that it has been full of peace and love – as life should really be, and not just at holiday time.
Anyway… I’m really just writing to kind of dust things off a bit and say that I’m going to be back at it here in 2011, as much as time allows – my performance schedule is a bit less gruelling, anyway – so hopefully a few of you will remember me and stop by from time to time. As always I’ll try to make it worth your while.
To that end, and in the spirit of giving that the season is known for, I’ve cooked up a little musical project, called ‘Switched-On Yule‘ – a little homage to the wonderful old ‘Switched-On Bach‘ record from 1968 that had a huge influence on me and arguably drew me into electronic music in the first place. More
Once upon a time, I ran away to join the circus. Not a big-top-style circus with elephants and lion-tamers, but a circus nonetheless. And no, I’m not speaking figuratively. About 11 years ago, when we still lived in Canada, I got a call from an old friend who asked me if I would be interested in moving to Europe and playing piano in a show that he had been working in for a while, for pretty good money. The catch was that I had to be there the following week.
If that’s not a test-your-fearlessness moment, I don’t know what is.
As it happened, my then-girlfriend (now my wife) and I had ‘put the idea out there’ not long before that we would like to do some more traveling. But not in the backpack-and-railpass kind of way – we’d done a fair bit of that already; we were interested in living and working somewhere else for a while. And here was an opportunity to do exactly that.
So we took the plunge and, although much water has flowed under many bridges since then, we are still living in Germany a decade later. And while I left that particular show 6 years ago, I find myself working for a very similar outfit again now, and it’s given me a few things to think about – yet another lens through which to look at the endless subject of creativity through… More
Well hello there fearless friends. I know it’s been a while since our last fireside chat, and I do apologize for that. It’s been kind of a wacky time here, part of a rather strange and transformative year (and it ain’t over yet!). So, what’s been going on since our last installment?
Well, first of all I turned 40, which involved a lot more thinking and soul-searching than I really anticipated. I also went through an intense spurt of writing on the still-unfinished-but-really-actually-proceeding Cliffjump Manifesto. More on this shortly.
Then rehearsals for my big winter show started. It’s a circus/cabaret kind of thing, not my highest calling in the world but I’ve done it before and I know the terrain. Plus: the band is absolutely top-drawer, I needed to reconnect with playing, and frankly I also needed to make a bit of money for a while to stabilize things around here. There are certainly worse jobs! But the rehearsals are pretty intense and all-consuming.
Finally, I had a bike accident riding home from said rehearsals one day, and managed to dislocate my left thumb. No serious damage, nothing fractured or torn, so it’s not an outright disaster – I was able to return to playing, if a bit gingerly in the left hand parts, fairly quickly. But it was certainly a bit of a reminder that I am a vulnerable human being and need to keep that in focus even as I try to push the envelope a little, which of course is part of the goal with this site and this work.
Authority or Authenticity?
Which brings me to my point for today. During all the aforementioned soul-searching, I began to realize that I perhaps have a tendency to try to present myself here (and in life in general, for that matter) as Having It All Figured Out. You know, being a totally together, highly evolved person. I’m concerned about this.
In an attempt to make these posts helpful, informative and worthwhile I have put a lot into them, but I have also adopted a somewhat professorial tone (hey, I come by it honestly: my father’s a retired professor, and we do tend to try to emulate our role models), maintaining a detached and distant tone in the interests of authority – but at the expense, perhaps, of authenticity.
So here’s the deal. I’m not fearless at all. Not remotely. I touch on this in the About page, but I’m not sure if anyone really reads those, and I figure it’s good to get it out in the open here. I try not to let fear dominate my life, but if I’ve given the impression that I’ve conquered it entirely, or that I believe I have, I apologize… the truth, as usual, is a bit more complicated than that. More
I recently trained for and ran my 5th marathon, and as often happens since I started this blog, I began to think about what the experience might offer in terms of creative insight. I’ve written recently about the joy of creativity – about how good it can feel when it’s going well. This post will continue this theme, but also form a bit of a segue into what to do when it isn’t going so well…
(The title appeals to me because it contains a nice double entendre: the positive spin is that we are searching for and moving towards a lasting kind of creativity, a lifelong habit that brings joy and fulfillment to our lives and the lives of others; the flipside is that creativity can sometimes feel like an ordeal, something that must be endured, cannot be avoided. We just have to muscle through it somehow. The reality, at least in my experience, is somewhere in between, or more precisely a bit of both…)
I’ve noticed that sports and athletic metaphors are used quite often in talking about creativity. Perhaps setting the complexities of the creative mind against the different and somewhat simpler backdrop of physical activity makes it easier to observe and notice patterns.
Running, which happens to be my sport of choice, seems particularly fruitful as a metaphor, especially when tackling the thorny subject of creative burnout… More
What’s the difference between an artist and a technician? I suspect that the answer to that really depends on whom you’re talking to. I’m sure a lot of artists would say there’s all the difference in the world, but I’m not so sure I agree. I also think there are a lot of artists who get a lot done who might question the notion that there’s a cut-and-dried categorical difference between the two.
A lot of what really separates people who make art on an active, daily basis from people who don’t (but perhaps imagine that they could, or would like to) is not some mysterious source of ‘inspiration’ but technical skill and the experience it’s based on. And maybe even more than that, it’s about attitude. It’s about fearlessness.
I’ve been thinking about this lately because I’ve been immersed in a task that was highly technical in nature, and less overtly ‘artistic’ than usual. However, it has in a way been highly creative and satisfying and I thought it would be interesting to explore that a little – and get around the music-and-art-bias that sometimes pervades things around here.
This is more of an update post than anything, just a quick note to let people know I’m back in Berlin after a couple of months away. It was a dense summer, there was a lot going on in both our families… but we have made it back intact and are settling into our routines, such as they are.
Actually, speaking of routines, I have just published a guest post for Mike Cliffe-Jones TransGlobe Blog project, which is a neat idea where bloggers from all over the world give a kind of ‘slice of life’ of wherever they are and how they spend their days.
My own entry is typically rambling but I think it gives a good impression of what goes on around here on an average day, as if there were ever such a thing. You can find it here:
Alternately, if you’ve just arrived from there, even better! Welcome, make yourself at home and have a look around the archives or ‘best of’ collection (links at right) to see what this place is all about…
I should have things up and running a bit more smoothly and bring the post frequency back up a little in the coming days; I’ve got a couple of interesting things on deck, so I hope you’ll bear with me…
Have a fascinating day!