Reflection Archives

“Life is a lot like Jazz… it’s best when you improvise.” George Gershwin

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Photo courtesy, Hailey E. Herrera, available on Flickr, under Creative Commons.

 

There comes a moment when you begin to grasp how to live your life. Maybe it is not so prevalent all the time, but you have got a glimpse.

You know.

You are present in the moment, totally aware of it and absorbed by it. You are in the unity of what is and what is going to be. This is the feeling of flow. There is the expression. And there is the sensation of an inner sound.

Your own voice.
Your own rhythm.
Your own music.

It dwells in you waiting to let it be free.

***

As a small girl I fell in love with rock music. It was easy, indeed. And the times of change made it all possible.

On the other hand, it took me years to appreciate jazz. This love was slowly born out of curiosity and built through experience.

The experience was not always easy. I remember a time when I sneaked out from a jazz performance on a big Jazz Festival, because the music was totally and utterly disturbing. It was horrible, to say at least. I couldn’t stomach it, so I had to escape. 

The music was totally awkward, impossible to listen to, blowing not only my mind but shattering my body, too. The main guy, the conductor, seemed in trance. He led the musicians to create sounds that were not only disharmonious to my ears, but making my body shake with disgust. Yet, to my shock, many people in the audience seemed to enjoy it. It was a perplexing experience.

But there were many good ones, such as listening to JazzyFatnastees.

***

It takes time to appreciate jazz, while rock music seems easily lovable.

The foundation of rock is security. There is the beat, the cyclical rhythm and the assurance. You know what is going to happen next. This feature has an attractive pull to the masses because rock offers stability. One can easily identify with the music to express the bottling emotions.

Rock music offers grounding. To hear it, listen to the piece below:

The foundation of jazz is uncertainty. This uncertainty permeates the music in all levels and forms.It creates tension. There is the surprise, the unknown behind the horizon and the unexpected. This feature is attractive only to the ones who are eager to wonder and wander. One can identify with the music when one is ready for an opening.

Jazz music offers exploration. To hear it, listen to the piece below:

Many can play and sing rock music but only some can play jazz.

Jazz is good when a musician who plays it, does with courage. He must flow with the music, so that at some point music is not being created any longer, but it is creating itself. Music is an elemental force, which searches expression. Jazz rides on exploration into the unknown.

***

Follow your own rhythm. Listen to your own music. Sing it.

If you can’t find it, start listening to jazz. It will lead you into exploration and encourage you to take a path of genuine curiosity. Listen to the piece of Możdzer, Danielson and Fresco:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kC5XhqUgY38

If you listen to jazz long enough, you will get comfortable in dealing with uncertainty. Even more, you will become curious and interested in all aspects of life. Once you welcome the unsettling, the unknown and the unpredicted, you will begin to appreciate the life for its richness of experience.

If you listen to jazz long enough, you will begin to realize that everything is interconnected. Any false tune, any off-sound or any lie will distort the whole piece. If you deceive in one area of life, it is going to permeate all your being. Your song is distorted.

If you listen to jazz long enough, you will be invited to play with uncertainty, summon your courage and become creative. You will learn to express your authentic self. You will learn to joyfully improvise.

Immerse in life. Feel it. Love it. Indulge in it.

Jazz in you searches an expression in the world.

 

“Jazz is one of the best things that you can find in your life, it can always be your friend.”  George Gershwin

 

speed matters Photo courtesy Tea, Two Sugars,  available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

Speed matters

In the last few weeks my son was learning to ride a bike. Although he previously refused to use a balance bike, he suddenly got super interested in riding a chunky and heavy bike. He made a fast progress with stabilizers as he was willing to practice no matter the weather.

First, the stabilizers were perfectly aligned on both sides. After two days, they were moved upwards. As a result, riding became a wobbly experience for him, nevertheless enjoyable. I could see it from the happy face of my son. The support given by the stabilizers was pretty weak.

After a couple of days my son insisted to take the stabilizers off. I still made him practise a few more days and I saw that he was ready.

The day came when the stabilizers were removed.  My son sat on the saddle with a huge confidence. Totally, convinced that riding was going to be a smooth experience.

It wasn’t.

He attempted to take off. Yet, he fell off just a second later. He tried again and fell again. And again. And again. Many more times.

He got perplexed. He was crying in desperation. Nothing worked.

I decided to give him support. In the initial stage, I hold  the bike at the back in a balanced position. Then I run with him riding, while balancing the bike. He was OK, when I was behind him. Yet, the moment I left him on his own, he was again back on the pavement. Falling over and over again.

I gave him lots of encouragement. No matter my praise, however, he was falling.

I kept applauding his attempts. All in vain.

At the end, he stopped, totally devastated. Frustrated, angry and defeated. He decided to ride his scooter instead.

***

The following few days brought nothing new. He had refused to ride a bike for a couple of days. Then he asked for his stabilizers back.

I did so.

Stabilizers brought his comfort again. He felt at home again and easy at riding. This time however, his experience was richer. He knew how it was to ride with and without stabilizers.

While practicing with stabilizers,  I explained to my son that in order to succeed he had to ride fast. The bike was heavy for his age and when a certain speed was gained, balancing become easier. Otherwise, slow riding, made it nearly impossible.

In addition, to help with the initial momentum, we practiced fast rides on a small downhill road. Then, I removed the stabilizers. Now, he knew he had to ride fast. He had the experience and understanding.

We started from a downhill, and … voila… he was riding a bike. Not ideally, at first, but without falling. Two more attempts, and he was perfectly fine.

A major accomplishment.

What is the moral of the story?

Speed matters.

The story is a good metaphor for all the situations when we want to induce a change. Be it to introduce a new habit, move a house, re-formulate a company strategy, learn a skill, or change a carrier.

The moment in which we want to start a transformation, the speed of implementation really matters. This speed, in analogy to bike riding, is important to gain the momentum. It is important to overcome the initial inertia and get things going. The speed of implementation is meant to push things forward. There is no time to dwell in fears or insecurities.

The speed forces you to stay focused. And the focus and dedication will help you to find the right way, the middle way, while balancing the in-s and out’s of the situation.

In order to do that, your initial preparations and strategy are essential, similarly as practicing with my son was. Deciding what you want and knowing what needs to be done to achieve that is the preparation. Then you just dive in and implement it as fast as you can.

Next time, when you are about to make a change in your life, choose to implement your strategy fast. No procrastination. Take one step after another. Until you reach your destination.

Speed of implementation matters, indeed, if you want to succeed.

 

 

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Photo credit Ulrik S.Christensen on Flickr

 

“I never dreamed of so much happiness when I was the ugly duckling.”
–Hans Christian Andersen

The ugly duckling

Do you remember the story of Ugly Duckling?

The ugly duckling was told to be ugly by his Mother Duck, siblings and even the hens on the farmyard. The Mother Duck was shocked by how big and ugly he was. The other ducks were teasing and pecking him. They were making fun of him until one day the ugly ducking flew away. He believed he was the ugliest bird under the sun. He wanted to die.

He wandered around looking for a place where he belonged. Yet, he was an outcast in everywhere. He was clearly different. And even though he was intimidated, he chose to respond with kindness.

In the spring, he saw graceful swans on a lake and felt an urge to join them.  When he was approaching them, he suddenly noticed his own reflection in the water. And he was taken back by what he saw. He looked alike. He was a swan, not a ducking. What a surprise! All other swans welcomed him warmly and appreciated him. And suddenly … they found him to be beautiful.
Even the kids playing around the lake complimented on the majestic look of the new swan.

How happy was he!

The metaphor

This little story is a metaphor how we feel when we are different from those around us. Even though these are lonely and painful times, it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with us.

Being different is about being an individual. And even though we long for confirmation and acceptance, our difference makes us special. It allows us to explore our unique traits and talents.

When we are different, we will likely not be understood, or appreciated. Perhaps we may even be intimidated or laughed at.

When we accept and embrace our difference with courage, we can better focus on seeing the value we bring in. It is a difference, not the norm, that sparks creativity and leads to progress.

When we find we are different than the people around, let us remember that there will come a time when we will find our flock. All the loneliness we have felt will help us appreciate the acceptance when we find it.

And in meantime, let us bring this difference into the world!

***

How can I appreciate the ways I am different from others today?

***

phoenix_rising

Art by Jim Valentine from Creative Commons on Flickr.

True power

Your true power doesn’t show up when things are going smoothly.
Your true power doesn’t manifest when there are great difficulties.
Your true power awakens when you believe you have no more power left.

It is a moment when the circumstances take you over. Whatever you do or say is not going to improve the situation.

Things are really bad.

You have been through a series of devastating events in your life. And … just at the moment you see a light at the end of the tunnel, another disaster smashes you badly.

But … oh, no, no, no … there is no end to it yet. Before you take another breath, unexpectedly, a new calamity is behind the corner.

You are knocked down. Totally overwhelmed. Sunk in the darkness.

There is no understanding.
There is no explanation.
It all doesn’t make sense.

You are down to the very basic survival as if taking a single breath is all that is expected of you.

You feel totally defeated. You are shocked by what have come on your path. There is no more hope and no more strength. There is no solution, either.

This is the moment in which your hidden power comes alive. Finding just a tiny, tiny bit of strength to go beyond this point comes down to a plain choice.

Just one more breath.
One more step.
An act of will.

When you are at the extreme of survival, when really nothing else matters, just get angry. Angry enough to become rebellious and act. Then … breath it out and take the next step.

If you repeat it sufficiently long, then you will slowly, very slowly, arise from destruction to power.
Re-born as a phoenix from ashes.

***

 

let_it_go

This year is perhaps seeing a comeback of a powerful vocal duo – JazzyFatnastees. Two Ladies with incredible voices. Voices that penetrate and crush the hardened hearts.

I saw them live, many years back, and they made a huge impression on me. They were humble and infamous, yet their performance was one of the best.

They had a chance to sing on a huge Jazz Festival, just as one of the many adds-on. 

The conditions were unfavorable, to say at least. Imagine a corridor with a very low ceiling. Disgustingly hot, close to fainting. Stuffy. Bland. Uninteresting. The space was dense, filled with cigarete’s smoke (yes, you could smoke there at that time). And, now, the Duo was to make their gig in one of the corners. 

They made it!

They filled the space with depth and structure. They made it interesting. The vibration in the air was thick, nearly touchable. The spiraling energy was there, the one that inspires for action.

I had no idea how they could sing when even breathing was uneasy.  

Yet…

The Ladies were there.
Focused. Centered. Energetic. Joyful.
 Prepared to touch people’s hearts. 

They radiated a unity of thought and action.
There was a harmony. 
There was trust and understanding.
There was an invitation to join them.
 
So, we did it.

From such a trust, creativity sparks in joy and laughter. We could experience that, the flow of creative energy. The contagious power of inspiration. 

Let it go

I like JazzyFatnastees for their amazing vocals and the harmony between their souls. 
If you need a powerful kick, they are the ones to listen to

They are ambitious. They write good lyrics.
Hopefully, they will create more music after 11 years of silence.

***

Appreciate the lyrics. Listen to these amazing voices:

 

 

Let it go

Crying, tortured,
Wishing for some four leaf clover
To free you from the chains that bind you
Fleeing from yourself,

In time you’ll figure out
We search a whole life
To seek what’s inside
You run but can’t hide

Begging strangers to try
To shield us from pain,
Hoping we’ll change
Nothing stay the same…

Why do you defeat you?
Let the past mistreat you
You don’t wanna let it go…
Let it go, let it go…

No one else can help you
Only you can free you
But you gotta let it go
You gotta let it go…

This’s your circle
frozen by the fears that lurk
You’ll wind up in the place you run to
Find you’ve lost your way

But in time you’ll figure out
We search a whole life
To seek what’s inside
You run but can’t hide

begging strangers to try
To shield us from pain,
Hoping we’ll change…
But we remain in the hame…

Why do you defeat you?
Let the past mistreat you
You don’t wanna let it go…
No-o…

No one else can help you
Only you can free you
But you gotta let it go
Let it go…

  

 ***

Photo copyright by Moyan Brenn. Photo available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

***
 

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