I am back recently from my first tour of Latvia. My musical life continues to pursue its own course, calling from places unchartered to me. I spent some days wandering around Liepāja where I played my last show – an old Baltic coastal city, with a hugely depleted population since Soviet times, and deserted barracks and small ghost towns, sleeping poetically on the town outskirts, skeletons of history, seemingly unsure of their current place. Monuments to another time, adrift.
I could relate to these curious buildings. I have found myself in the “in between world” of my musical life. Unlike many of the people I grew up with, I have survived in the desecrated environment of the musical landscape. And unlike others, my career has not swelled on the promise of momentum and allowed me any degree of comfort. Things are unstable, and there are few certainties.
My psyche has developed in tandem with these times. When there is the call of activities I am available to it, and of course just grateful for the work. And when times are quiet I have learnt intimately the characteristics and nuances of solitude. But I don’t feel like Camus, “forever a stranger to myself”. I feel in a process of continual education, and I find that the solitude tends to educate me as much or more than than the journeys I am making.
Journeys has many themes and characteristics for me, and one of them for me is to document this period of my musical life. This examination of independence, of self reliance, of continuing when on first appearance the world seems to be telling you to give up.
I didn’t give up. But I did give in. The central characteristic of this time for me is a sense of acquiescence. Of surrender. Of trusting in life. Of dancing to its beat. Of listening to its rhythm. And when the rhythm asks for silence, to allow myself to be silent. Or if to celebrate, to celebrate. Or if to be void, void, inspired, inspired, down, down, reflective, reflective, passive, passive. Of lying down upon the naked earth and allowing the sun to wander across my closed eye with no need to do anything.
I am for the first time enjoying the cultivation of magnificent voids in myself. To feel no need to fill them up. To feel no need to show. I have realised that my musical journey walks hand in hand with my sense of discovery, with my internal journey, with the slow accumulation of a deepening knowledge.
And yet, then I discover something more. That when the voids empty truly, there appears a new rain. And I am finding that each time I empty myself, I find that the next EP will somehow write itself. Sometimes whole songs very suddenly. Sometimes, picking up little ideas that I have written along the last journey.
In this way this journeys time seems to making its own markers. I am less trying to go forward with it as a project – but allowing myself to be available to when it is ready to go forward. The new EP is now written, and it is calling and next week I will start to record it. It feels an important moment. Again a little watershed.
My travel in China was busy, even frantic. Tiring, wonderful, strange. I remember reading the Tao Te Ching on the way over, and at times during my journey. I feel I have gained an understanding of it. And I think so much of that understanding it about not trying to control fate, about accepting time, about not wanting to get to another place.
Many times in my life I have resisted where I found myself. Many of those times were worthy of resistance. They were not good places. I am grateful to my resistance. Even if now I must in turn reject it. I have nothing left to reject. There are no other lives that I yearn. I am grateful for my inbetween-ness. For the pocket of life in between success and failure, and especially in my freedom from those perspectives. I feel a sense of calmness. So often we want to fill up our lives rather than allow them to be filled.
I spoke recently with a friend of mine, a writer. He talked of the freedom of not having to make a legacy. Of not having to prove anything, be anything at all, or to show anything. I have recognised that on some level that happiness is related to this. I am eager to discover more of happiness. To understand its working, as I have understood the workings of chaos and of solitude.
For now, in the distance. I can hear the calling of my path. But I don’t need to walk to it, time is doing that for me. I am in the spirit of acquiescence, and in that within a sense of trust. Life makes its own momentum. At times you have to react. And at other times its okay to wait.
“…..man has to believe, to know, from time to time why he exists; his race cannot flourish without a periodic trust in life…..” Nietzsche
Quotes take from a wonderful little book that Berlin artist/philosopher/maestro Boris Eldagsen gave me called “The Essential Crazy Wisdom” by Wes Nisker