What does it mean to be courageous? Not the ‘I will chain myself to a tree’ kinda courage but the ‘I will do what I must for my sanity’ instead. Ps, there is nothing wrong with chaining yourself to a tree, it’s just not my thang. In my experience courage was something I found when I had no choice. Those moments when my back was against the wall and all I could do was leap, jump and risk everything. I discovered I had a backbone when in deep crisis. Wait, that’s not entirely accurate. Courage found me when I was immersed in something I deeply loved…and both saved me in turn.
‘To be courageous is not necessarily to go anywhere or do anything except to make conscious those things we already feel deeply and then to live through the unending vulnerabilities of those consequences.’ David Whyte
Vulnerability, I love that word especially where Music is concerned. In fact I demand it of myself and the musicians I love embody it. The popular refrain I hear is ‘put your pain in the music’ and that, I must confess, takes a different kind of courage. My Beloved Ben Harper said it best – when one sits down to pen music there is no place to hide – about who you are, what you feel or your lingering desires. And while the music might be blindingly beautiful the consequences of unearthing the contents of your heart and staring at them is deeply painful. I mean – just what the hell do you do once you know the truth, your truth?
“No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life,” Nietzsche
I have come to realize that pain cannot easily be avoided. If we avoid it then one has to question whether any real growth has occurred. Viktor E. Frankl said, ‘Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.’ Being a reactive and headstrong Scorpio could land me in a great deal of hot water. Notice I employed the word could purposefully. Yet when confronted with matters deeply distressing my first reaction was always to withdraw. Into myself, towards music, friends and nature. I use that space and time to clarify my thinking, formulate a strategy of sorts and then only do I act. Never once did I think I was being courageous. In fact the delay to act instantly is one of my many weaknesses. However, it is not one I experience when on stage and for that I am deeply grateful.
‘Creativity embeds knowledge so that it can become practice. We move what we’re learning from our heads to our hearts through our hands. We are born makers, and creativity is the ultimate act of integration — it is how we fold our experiences into our being…’ Brené Brown.
I write and sing away those niggling feelings I cannot reconcile in my waking life, and once on stage I exhale them all. The audience is moved (for the most part) and I relieved of the bulk of what pains me. I used the word ‘bulk’ intentionally. Real healing does not take place in a vacuum.
“There is no love of life without despair of life,” wrote Albert Camus. Balance, it always comes down to maintaining some kind of balance. More than balance, knowing that I am able to make better choices is what gives me greater hope. All that is needed is greater resourcefulness on my part and a great amount of patience.
‘Change is rarely straightforward… Sometimes it’s as complex as chaos theory and as slow as evolution.’ Rebecca Solnit
This is what I have learnt about myself through every crisis and bit of music I pen – I act when I am good and damn ready; even though I am scared and filled with doubt. Only when I am good and damn ready. If I am intent on making changes in my life and career – only when I am good and bladdy ready. Everything else can and will wait.