Dec 29, 2011
The thought I had this morning was about my varied career choices and the seasonal lifestyle in which I have lived these past several years. The thought came to me after listening to a Radiolab podcast entitled “Help!” The interviews featured people who had been scared literally to death into overcoming demons such as alcoholism, tricked themselves psychologically into quitting smoking, or in a creative sense found ways to forge relationships with their muses that allows for compromise and interaction with these unseen forces. “Eat, Pray, Love” author Elizabeth Gilbert was featured. She mentioned an interview she had conducted with Tom Waits where he discussed his process on how his songs and albums are created. Each song has its own physical identity it comes into this world with, is what Waits told her. Some arrive in bits and fragments, some as whole pieces. Some must be bullied into fully revealing themselves, and others cared for like an underdeveloped newborn lest they give up and disintegrate. Gilbert mentioned an image I have thought on myself as well - that ideas and creative projects are encircling the atmosphere at all times and we can be the medium to bring them to fruition if we become the antenna that reaches up to receive them. “If you see an idea but don’t create it,” Gilbert said, “for its will is seeking manifestation - it will choose someone else to become transmitted through.”
How many times have you had an idea for a song, an invention, and waited, only to find the same idea produced later by someone else?
Gilbert says that these creative works - writing, painting, photography, films - are 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. Put another way, she said, “that it’s 99% oyster and 1% pearl.” In her mind the commitment to the craft is what fosters the connection with the muse, angel, idea - whatever you want to call it. The work, work, work is done and the end is defined in reward from above or beyond by the inspiration delivered from something or somewhere outside of ourselves.
What I thought was important in both Gilbert’s and Waits’ styles was that they both interact physically, verbally, with their ideas, their muses, their projects. Gilbert talks to her ideas and records the conversations much like the process of automatic writing used by the author of the Celestine Prophecy. The book somewhat writes itself. Waits on the other hand will scream at his unfinished songs, converse with them, bargain with them - but he fully acknowledges them as beings.
Again, the dedication to his craft is what makes Waits a musician - not necessarily his talent. Theoretically he would be just as much a musician without his fame as with it. The point is he continually writes songs and plays them. For him it may be a biological need necessary to sustain something living within.
So what would I say that “I” am? What is it that I must do regardless of compensation, limitation? I could say that in the past several years adventuring has been what I “must” do. I’ve moved from place to place exploring, discovering, working, and learning. I’ve used photography all the while and journaling more recently as a method of documenting my travels and adventures. Does that make me an adventurer?
My adventures have been productive and creativity has been a product of them. There have been others here on Earth that have made a life, or at least a large part of a life, upon adventuring. (Google “Sir Richard Burton.”) Some have pursued adventures and explorations in the disciplines of science and research, others purely for documentary purposes, others seeking riches or resources, some to plunder, some to exploit, some to preserve, some to escape; but all have gone and as a result expanded their minds, experienced something new and different.
Though my life in recent years has been dedicated to my travels and my adventures I wouldn’t say that it was a conscious dedication to a craft such as a musician or a writer, it was simply what I was doing at the time - seeking opportunity and following through with my wits and my work ethic. Right now though it has become conscious, it is a definable lifestyle.