Something that has become the norm in our society is the idea that we tie our identities to things/objects/places/people/ideas/belief systems/careers/interests all of which exist outside of ourselves. Maybe our social surroundings dictate to us that we are to act in certain ways, dress within a framework (style/fashion), listen to certain types of music (cerebral cushioning), think within the walled garden of our bonded factors and everything will be ok. We can carry on as a group reinforcing each other, spurring each other on all while self-policing ourselves to be lesser than we can be.
The self-imposed and socially reinforced construct is another instance of the reception class teacher chastising a child for colouring outside the lines. Without deviation from the norm there will be no turbulence, no synthesis of new pathways based on the immersion, replication then analysis leading to new ideas.
We are denying (in many instances sub-consciously) the opportunity for conscious evolution. I’m not talking about grand acts here, I’m concerned about how when someone suggests something new its immediately countered with “I think that won’t work because…” (or numerous variations on the theme), we are shooting down ideas before they take flight as they exist outside of our (what is acceptable to us) frame of reference. We are creatures of habitual tendencies at the expense of experientially triggered growth.
Why is this a problem?
In a ten year teaching career going from private guitar tutor to higher academic delivery & management I saw a troubling trend pointing to the systemic oppression of imagination. This would start with a younger sibling having a screen shoved in their hands as I taught the elder how to play music after school, to a group of Year Nine students googling ‘how to use your imagination’ when I asked them to devise a 3-5 minute scene in drama class (this happened on more than one occasion). It was indicated in the lurch towards the academy model in state schools where funding is attributed to points, points are awarded based on grade percentages and grades are attained by an ability to remember and reproduce information. Not from the use of said information to synthesise new ideas, modes of working, processes or works that are not (in the words of Frank Reynolds) bullshit or derivative.
During my time as a music student we were encouraged to play ‘this’ way but not ‘that’ way. Learning the stylistic vocabulary of any creative medium of expression is important however far too often we mistake attitude, style and ‘noise’ for individual artistic expression. We are presented with vacuous statements part funded by benefactor part driven by assumption and nowhere to be seen is that hunger for manifestation that the idea itself commands of it’s avatar.
That is what interests me as it’s where things get interesting. However this all falls by the wayside when we are unable to release ourselves from ourselves to be ourselves. I come back to that phrase/idea a lot because it is something that I had noticed in my own experiences that I was in danger of becoming firm and inflexible that I was risking having outlived my usefulness. A stern self-observation to have at 28 then spend the next six years journeying beyond that point into a state more akin to Bruce Lee’s ‘Be like water’ philosophy which has diversified my scope of experiences in this life exponentially.
The whole thing boils down to us being prisoners of our own identities whether that is self, familial, social, institutionally or systemically imposed. We are in danger of living this life asleep, wishing away the hours from one ‘experience’ (our generational business model now runs on experiences, don’t buy into it, it’s the same marketing ploys as old as the hills to get you to pay more for less) to another. Pay day to pay day, rent day to rent day, Monday to Friday, holiday to holiday. The hours roll passed and time flies, before you know it you are sat in an all-inclusive retirement village wondering what the hell happened to your knees and why is everyone sedated from 4pm? The tragedy is here that people are living in a state of self-sedation during their innovative times, the times we can make a difference and raise our voices to support new roads. Instead we follow the herd on keeping our Instagram up to date with the latest forever moving trends. This is a luxury not afforded to us by our own willing submission to the personalised hamster wheel we have created for ourselves.
If anything or anyone challenges this in any way, we are rendered into a negative state of panic, anxiety, fear, anger or an overall flux. We have willingly given away remote controls to our own state of inner wellbeing to people, places, situations, combinations of words, feelings and random combinations of elements. This is not life as much as this is not ‘being’.
Step one is recognition and identification, all progress starts at home. We must accept that 95% of the suffering we experience in this life is in some way shape or form our own fault. Whether we are the architect of a situation or not, how we view it/what we see through our perception filter (forever more coloured by the experiences and ideas laid out before) will dictate to us if we are able to sit in the flow of an evolving situation or choose (subconsciously) to be a fixed object in a river. One will go a lot easier than the other.
The question is, would you see that branch you cling to in the stream as something that is rooted into the ground allowing you to stay in the same place while everything moves around you or as something to use to maintain buoyancy as you move along with the flow from one place to the next?
Opening music ‘Rhythm of the heat’ – Peter Gabriel, based on Carl Jung’s experience in Africa when observing a tribal dance he became so overcome by the ritual he was compelled to join them.
Bridging music – ‘Impressions’ – Pat Martino, some great guitar playing. I like Pat Martino as he was a ‘darker’ jazz player, something about that subversive quality to his music in a genre that had been homogenised and tied up in a prison of convention during my course of musical study appealed to me. Those who operate outside of the rules in a sense of ‘chaotic good’ appeal to me.