Tuesday, July 23, 2013

On Recognition.

There are those who say that recognition should not be the focal point of an endeavor. There are those who say that recognition should never be expected nor desired. There are even those who say that recognition takes away from the work one has done. And then there is me.

Recognition is a “thank you.” It means, “We appreciate all that you have done for us, all that you have accomplished, because it was meaningful to us.” Recognition is a gift.

I agree that recognition is not the point of an endeavor, but there are circumstances under which it should be expected. I agree that recognition should not be the focal point, even in hindsight, of any of our accomplishments. But, I disagree wholly and entirely that recognition will ever diminish a finished product, particularly if that piece is the result of talent and hard work.

Today, I was recognized for some of the accomplishments I have made in my studies of the bardic arts. Was this my goal all along? Of course not. My goal was to become a better and more useful Bard and enhance what talent I have. Does it matter that this is a standard-issue for others who complete this path of study, the “expected” certificate of completion? Absolutely not. Does it make the work less meaningful? Not at all. I learned more than I can recount in my years of study thus far.

Do you know what matters? I got these certificates in the mail today that give the Ranks and Dates Achieved for ADF Journeyman Bard and ADF Master Bard, and the first thing I wanted to do after I beheld and basked in their glow was begin to write. I look at these and am reminded of the months and months I spent writing and rewriting and singing and playing guitar, and it encourages me in a very real and very tangible way to spend more months writing and singing and sharing with all of you.

It’s a circle. We creators create and share. The appreciation we receive for the work we have done motivates us to create and share more. Recognition is just a part of the circle of creativity.

Thank you to everyone who has ever supported or encouraged me. It has made this road-less-traveled a far better journey.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Lesson from my Dad

I feel most creative when I am alone. I oftentimes don’t feel like I have the freedom to express myself fully in every creative way I desire when I am in the presence of someone else, even indirectly. I love to be alone and just let it flow: words, music, prayer. These are the most intimate treasures inside of me, and if I keep them to myself, I cannot be hurt through their dissection. If you take a song I have written and break it down, you will find the center of my heart beneath all the layers of creativity. The most courageous thing I have ever done is to take the risk and share what I have written with others, for therein lies the hub of my vulnerability. Inside of my creativity, my most powerful work is religiously inspired.

Nothing fuels me more than my spiritual path, but playing music is the main way in which I can fully let go and be free. Music is pure and emotive. Music opens you and breaks through your walls. Music penetrates even the deepest hurt and provides healing. Music can touch you when you shut down and can release your emotions when you bury them. When I become the musician, the whole world passes away, all the insecurities and filters and censorship, all the hurt, the pain and the sadness is gone and only I am left; just me. This is a trait I learned from my Daddy.

My father was not a musician, but no man loved music more and no one better illustrated the power of music more than he. Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, Steve Miller. These were the bands that helped us find common ground; as much as we loved one another, we never had much in common. My dad was a drug-induced schizophrenic/manic depressive, and one of his more frequent cycles was anger–not just typical anger, but break-stuff, shoot-holes-through-the-doors anger. I would watch him explode as he lost control of his emotions and then witness the beauty of the music that soothed the beast inside of him. He would turn the lights off and turn the music up until all of his anger or hurt or sadness was gone, and only he was left with the sweet sounds in his head to block out the voices. It was then that we would be able to talk and I would see my real dad. Such was the power of music in our lives.

In light of the short-but-sweet performance I gave this weekend at Dublin Irish Festival and the lovely compliments I received, humbling compliments about how my music was able to touch people, I offer thanks to my father for showing me long ago the power of music and encouraging me to make this manifest in my life. May he be at peace surrounded by the song of the universe.