I

Usually & mostly, we look on our experiences as being either good or bad; we feel happy, or unhappy. The beginning of a mature emotional life is when we experience both at the same time, and are able to hold the contradiction.

Part of this Diary is a report into the professional life, including snapshots of the industry as it is / was during periods under continuing-discussion. The music of the period continues to be the subject of commentary, but with little reference to informed background information on the conditions surrounding the music’s creation, emergence & performance. Music appears in our world and is a blessing, more often despite the actions of those nominally responsible for the music appearing, than because of them.

Part of this Diary is a personal investigation into what this world is in actuality, not what it seems or claims to be; partly a recapitulation of forty years as a professional, that I might better digest the experiencing of 4 decades; partly a process of defining a rule of personal conduct to lead the remaining period of my life.

Just beneath the surface of the mundane lie riches; this all the time, during bad & good times. So, what is the surface, and what is just beneath?

To the young, at age 20 & about to go to university, it seemed that the life of a professional was more likely to provide a better liberal education for that young man than the education provided by conventional education. Forty years later, I commend him on his instinctive choice. What that young man learnt from the intervening years, briefly expressed?

Firstly, the frailties of humankind.
Secondly, the inexpressible benevolence of the Creative impulse.
Thirdly, the distance between the two.

The music industry is easily filed under the frailties of humankind. This Diary includes…

shining light on dark places;
confronting the appalling & examining what & why;
noting contradictions;
an inability to swallow hypocrisy a little too rich.

II

There is a quality of righteous anger which is not anger, and is free of negativity. But this is a high condition, and rare.

A middle condition is being pissed, while being free-of-being-pissed. This is not being-pissed; this is not not-being-pissed. This is both being-pissed & not-being-pissed simultaneously.

When we are just really pissed, we have fallen off the thin line that meets & touches both, embracing contradiction. This is a low condition.

As our discipline, our personal practice, deepens, we are able to see more clearly our contradictions for what they are: contradictions. A sign of growing maturity is, we become better able to bear these contradictions.

First, there are contradictions.
Secondly, we recognise there are contradictions.
Thirdly, we acknowledge that there are contradictions.
Fourthly, we address those contradictions, in our nature & behaviour.

These contradictions don’t go away, but our personal harmony becomes more finely tuned, timed & toned. So, we may always be a symphony of parts, but a symphony increasingly under the baton of one conductor.

III

When we have been violated, perhaps by those who had a professional duty of care towards us, perhaps by those who claimed to set the standard for best practice in their field, perhaps by those with long personal ties & a responsibility towards our common humanity, how do we feel? Perhaps, we feel violated.

The action of those who violated us may be understandable & forgivable. It is not acceptable. Better when we act badly to acknowledge our failings & seek to heal the repercussions. When those who have acted badly toward us refuse to acknowledge their behaviour, we seek to understand & to forgive (this is necessary). But the event, as a whole, will not heal; repercussions will continue to repercuss; our enemy will not quite become a friend (although often our enemies are more valuable to us than our friends).

We are asked to forgive our enemies, not forget them.

The injunction is to love our enemies; we are not asked to like them.

Forgiving our enemies is hard enough, but to love them – this is impossible! Fortunately, because something is impossible, doesn’t mean it’s hopeless.

The challenge, the question is: how to turn a seeming disadvantage to our advantage? The greater the seeming disadvantage, the greater the possible advantage.

So, what do we do with our feeling of violation?

IV

I have been violated. I feel negative. This is understandable & forgivable. It is not acceptable. What do I do? Without a discipline, without a practice, probably I fester. We begin where we are. So, where are we? The quick answer is, pretty fucked up. No pejorative judgement here, merely an impartial assessment of my personal condition. Better to accept that this is what it is than become more negative with denial & justifications.

We may recall the beatitude blessed are the meek. Much as I love the poetry of the King James version, I prefer to render this from the Greek as without resentment. Am I able to deal with the poor treatment I receive without resentment? There are two characters from my early professional life that I have seen put a lot of energy into holding their resentments over decades, and I have seen how this has affected their lives. I have noted in my own life how corrosive holding resentment can be. So, what to do?

Firstly, the body is immediate, and in the moment. I begin with physical relaxation, that negative feeling does not inhibit my sensing of the body, nor limit physical response by increasing tension & restriction.

Secondly, I do not consent to the presence of the negativity. We may feel negative, but we do not have to own it; we do not have to accept negative imperatives & demands. We may, or may not, have the right to feel negative; fortunately, we have a higher right: the right to not feel negative. Alternatively put, we have the right to act positively in front of negative arisings in our life, work & feelings. Given our education, upbringing & exposure to media, to exercise this right takes a lot of practising; and self-permission.

The musician has three disciplines, of the hands, heart & heart. In this sense, two of the three disciplines are acting upon the third: the body & the intellectual faculties are addressing & acting on the feelings. We may feel tight, but our body is relaxed, releasing the tension & restriction that are automatic reactions to negativity. We may feel pissed, but our head is holding the instruction: I decline to accept this negativity; I withhold my consent from owning this negativity. My associations are being directed elsewhere.

V

A necessary part of establishing a practice is to develop a sense of distance from our automatic functioning, and between the functions of sensing the body, feeling & thinking. We develop self-observation, and cultivate the noticing of automatic patterns of functioning, and how each of these functional operations sets off reactions in the others: a bad thought generates a bad feeling which results in a particular corresponding posture; a bad feeling is followed by a restricted posture & bad associations trigger in the mind; particular postures have affective & mental corollaries.

Self-observation is partly looking-over-our-shoulder, as it were, and seeing how the animal we inhabit deals with arising situations: good, bad & good-and-bad. While developing self-observation & The Observer in us, we notice that we are not singular; although we are establishing a centre of singularity that acts on behalf of our personal orchestra.

If our aim is to establish a personal practice, what to do? The beginning is physical relaxation; the beginning of physical relaxation is doing nothing – as much as we can! In time, when disturbing thoughts or feelings seek to take a hold of us, we respond by moving swiftly to relaxation. It is more difficult, for several reasons, for unpleasant thoughts & feelings to take hold of us when we are physically relaxed. We may feel bad, but we can have a body in good tone & think good thoughts. Then, it becomes harder to feel bad. But not impossible.

And here we come to a major problem: we love to feel bad. Having a bad time is the best time of all!

But that is another question.

RF

Annunci