Spinning Plates

The last two music shows I went to I burst into tears upon hearing the first line of the first song.  For once, I did not try to analyze why but rather allowed the swelling music to float me up and crack me open just for a little while and see where it took me. It paid off.  It sent me in new directions I hadn't thought of before.

I have never paid much attention to music.  I like what I like and I have phases where I cannot get enough of what I like.  I put a bunch of my favourite songs on my ipod once and about every 3 months I obsessively play it until I don't feel like it anymore.  I make an effort to send myself emails or post stuff on facebook to remind me of songs I like or that I happen to hear on the radio or whatever.  I guess the best way to put it is that it does not come naturally to me.  It never really occurs to me to seek it out. However, there are those times when I am with a friend and they introduce me to someone or I have an experience that exposes me to an artist and the people who adore them and I go "oh yeah, music, it's great isn't it?".

I don't know if it is a coincidence or not, but ever since I started writing this blog, and I 've thought more about art and expression in all its forms, I've been more open to music.  I've been to a few really good shows in that time and it is slowly dawning on me that I live in a really cool arts community.  I've been too absorbed in other things I guess, but that is appalling to admit since there is evidence of its vigour all around me and there has been for a long time.  I'm surrounded by people with oodles of talent who have been called to perform, write and create. Some have day (or night jobs), others are able to work exclusively as artists, many many others are enthusiastic participants and imbibers of others' creations.  Regardless of the role that each one plays at any given time in this community,  they are all pouring their energies and talents into the ring- exposing themselves to criticism,  but also to the possibility of new levels of adaptation, learning and creativity.

As I write and think more about how to express myself creatively, I have begun to have my version of what a performer and an audience member be transformed.  As a member of the audience, I am beginning to understand that I am not a passive recipient but an active participant. What I experience as an observer can have the power to feed my creative endeavours and in turn, hopefully, that can potentially have some effect on someone else.  For the first time in a long time, I am beginning to see myself as a creative person again and I am having fun testing out what that means.

Recently, I attended Rose Cousins' show to promote her album "We have made a spark."  The show started with a 20 minute video about the making of the album which was made in collaboration with many other talented artists, some of  whom in fact joined her on stage in Halifax.   The goosebumps came right away and they did not go away throughout the show. Her power, their power together, and the spirit that embodied her music sent voltage throughout the crowd. Experiencing her work set some plates spinning in me.  Those plates, precarious as they were, did not wobble, but in fact picked up speed.  I was sitting in a chair listening,  but also actively experiencing her music.  The music pushed tiny tender shoots up through my hard packed shell and I began to understand in a non-academic way why music and art in general are so critical to my well being.  The spinning plates unleashed a whole range of ideas that I wasn't aware of before.    The music changed my mindset as I went about my business during the week that followed, not just artistically, but in every other facet of my life as well.

Nothing else we invest in has that kind of return.

Art, whether we personally like it or not, invites us to take a second look at ourselves or something or someone else we've neglected, that includes relationships and policies and routines. Its value is not confined to the stage or the page or the wall.

These talented artists in my midst are moving me to glimpse different versions of myself and envision better or different ways of relating to others. Art sets in motion all kinds of ripples...who  know where they will lead?  As we, the audience,walked out into the night after that great show, the plates were still spinning. The ripples were being dispatched to move us to approach things in a new way.  Perhaps to come up with an innovative staff rota, or to resolve a conflict with a co-worker, or to find a way to get through a long afternoon with our kids or to invent a new flavour of muffin or...