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I have my best times as a musician when I seem to almost disappear from the equation. The music flows out of the instrument as if my guitar was just waiting for me to open the corral. Really, the experience is like watching a herd of horses run out as I stand at the gate. They rush past me faster than I can see one from the other. The horses, uh, notes have no mind of me and I stand amazed at how this inanimate object (the guitar) can seem to do this on its own. Anyone who has experienced this in a creative endeavor knows how precious and "just right" it seems. Like a good drug, we want more of that! 

Years ago, when I first heard a famous musician humbly pass praises meant for him to God and say, "I am only a conduit." I couldn't hear it in the spirit intended. I cynically thought: Either you are self centered enough to believe that God would pick you specially to work through, or you're trying to look even better by appearing to be modest. Sickening. And most of my early creative efforts were fraught with just that, effort.

Then one night at a party years ago I had an experience of my guitar playing itself. I was holding it but couldn't for the life of me control what was coming out of it. The horses were loose! I was totally incredulous and delighted as nimble fingers just danced about the fretboard and seemed to have little to do with the beauty my ears were hearing. How does this happen?

For that duration I was obviously a conduit. My life long desire to be included as a co-creator in a perfect universe had been fulfilled. But how I could do it again and again, on command? I had practiced hard for so many years already and was only now given this brief window to a reality I had always believed just wasn't possible. Developing masterful access to this paradigm became the job, now that I knew my scales, arpeggios and lots of chords and licks. 

There is a leap of faith required which pays huge dividends but proves validity only in hindsight, thus it is aptly named. The leap is: to choose to believe that by giving up trying to run your own show, you may just get what you truly desire. You must choose to live as if that is true with no proof that you won't fall flat on your face. Relinquish ambition and control. Relax, open, tune in and wait for the flood waters to wash through the pipeline. Let the horses loose! It works. (please excuse the mixed metaphors)

But then time and again I've seen musicians and artists who try to do this all backwards and fail. You've got to learn your instrument. You've got to show up to practice every day. For some people it takes a very long time. Others are fairly quick to master the rudiments. But at some point you have to give it all up and let the wild horses run. 

The first phase is breeding and nurturing the horses into adulthood. I've seen so many accomplished technicians fail to produce inspired music simply because they can't relax and let their mature horses determine their own direction.

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