“If you want to be a musician, it’s the best thing in the world.
If you want to be a professional musician, it’s the worst thing in the world”
-Sam Shalabi
“If it’s not fun, don’t do it.”
-Cecil Taylor

There used to be more and different writings here, but not anymore. It felt time to let that all go, like those were the mutterings of an irrelevant person.

It’s October 22nd as I write this here on Vancouver Island, and I’m listening to 1984’s Budd / Eno / Lanois collaboration The Pearl, a perennial favourite. I’m considering the young maple trees outside the window of my studio / office; their bright red leaves have almost all been blown away by the autumn winds this week, their thin, spindly branches reduced to winter baldness. My whole life I’ve contended with the dissonance between my feelings for this season, compared with those of the world around me - everyone else mourns the loss of summer, the descent into darkness, the shortening of the days and the coming of the cold. I, on the other hand, never feel more at peace than I do at this time of year. The slowness, the darkness, the chill, the rain, the winds - they’re all reassurances to me, soothing balm after the activity of the warmer months. Thinking about those trees out there, I can’t help but wonder if they feel a similar sense of relief as their leaves fall to the ground.

“It’s over. I can rest. No one will look at me now. I can blend into the landscape again, unite with the whole, give up the part.”

Who can say what’s in the minds of trees, but I know for my part, I’d love to vanish into the landscape. I don’t mean the literal landscape (though that could be nice too) - rather, I mean giving up that sense of being the star of your own little movie, or the hero in your own little novel (depending on your media preferences). I want to be absorbed by my surroundings, reintegrated into the larger setting - I want to stop being analyzed and start being synthesized.

I became curious the other day, concerning the etymology of the term “jaded” - that horribly familiar sense of being “over it”. The obvious things that come to mind would be the mineral and the colour, but I was unsure how either of those would relate to the idea of being jaded. I discovered, upon further investigation, that the word comes to us from 14th Scottish dialect, and referred originally to a workhorse that had become so broken down from hard labour as to be considered worthless or even vicious. This is, to be sure, a much darker meaning than the current usage of the term to describe, to my mind at least, a snarky urban hipster. Dark though it is, I also feel it’s more accurate, at least in terms of describing my own mind. I am well and thoroughly jaded, in the 14th century sense of the term - I am broken down and worthless. I am even occasionally vicious. And with that in mind, I feel my working days are done. No more shall I pull that plow, that cart, or whatever else a workhorse does (I may live in a semi-rural area, but I’m far from agriculturally-knowledgeable).

With work behind me, what comes next? Our dominant culture, itself deeply jaded, would likely say naught but death comes once one’s working days are done. This is, mercifully, not so.

Next comes play.

It’s interesting how downright heretical this seems, that play, fun, enjoyment, should be the most genuine forms of rebellion we’ve got at the moment, but I think it’s true. You want to upset other artists these days, all you have to do is tell ‘em you’re having fun, you’re into what you’re doing, or you’re happy - that last one is sure to be provocative, especially if it’s true. But now, I’m not looking to upset anyone, nor am I trying to rebel - I give it all up. I don’t want to be ahead of the curve, on the bleeding edge, thrumming in the darkest night as a dying culture’s early-warning system. I’m done. I’m retiring, hanging up my spurs and leaving the work to those who still need to do it.

Working yourself to the point of jadedness, to viciousness, to worthlessness...well, you can’t work your way out of that, now can you? That’d be like trying to eat your way out of fullness, to run your way out of exhaustion. I say again: GIVE UP. You are not your job, nor are you your art. STOP. You are nothing, and that is the most wonderful truth of all, that in your nothingness you’re free. So let go, remember, and live joyfully.

And yes, you can judge me on that.
© 2020