Create February Fabulous! – The Battle
Art can be a hard place to live in. It is fraught with many ups and downs. It is subject to much criticism, frowned upon as a career choice and is subject to our own internal judgement and ramblings. Yet art and expression are the very things which set us free. Art is the process through which we can express our true selves. It has no boundaries, defies definition and can be as big or as small as we make it.
Creativity can happen in the strangest of places, on the grandest of stages or in the warmest and most friendly of atmospheres. It can happen in the kitchen, in the bedroom, on the way to work, in our studio, on the living room floor, in our thoughts and whatever we choose to focus upon
But what happens when our ego steps in and tries myriad delay tactics to veer us away from taking part? Making art can be a vulnerable place to be. It is risky and is open to criticism, not least from ourselves. The ego, in its limited experience of the big picture, attempts to protect us from uncomfortable feelings, whilst art thrives from the full feeling of those things. Great art embraces the darkness and is halted by the ego’s delaying existential crisis.
I played a gig at the weekend. It went really well. In fact, I have not enjoyed myself so much in quite a while. What most people won’t know is that I really struggled to get myself to that point. I want to explain something of the process, of the battle I had to fight in order to get to the finish.
For years I have been beaten down by my ego procrastinating and finding distractions for me, in order to avoid criticism, rejection and abandonment. Yes, most of these feelings have their source in childhood. It is not unusual. It is very normal in fact. But over the last few weeks, I have been delving deep into this battle in order to conquer it, a battle I have fought for years. I battle that I won this weekend.
The day of my gig I found myself avoiding my practice, not warming up my voice and engaging in all manner of activities that were completely unrelated to music. I found things to fix that needing fixing, surfed the net for solutions to my dodgy car and generally faffed about. Essentially, I was distracting myself from the task in hand, trying to find reasons not to go to my gig. I felt uninspired. I couldn’t see the point in singing or music. Even my friends and loved ones dropped out of coming!
Before leaving, I felt fearful and dejected. I felt abandoned. I had to drive one hour up the coast to play a gig on my own. Doubt crept in. How can I do this? How can I sing? Why am I doing this? I haven’t practiced enough. My songs are rubbish. I don’t want to go.
Familiar voices, ones I have lived with for years. These are the voices of the ego, trying to deviate us from being vulnerable, trying to protect us from potential danger, judgement and ridicule. The ego even uses delay tactics to protect itself from itself. Our own minds can prejudge a situation, to try and avoid being in it, so that we avoid self-judgement – if I don’t go, then I don’t have to beat myself afterwards when I turn out to be rubbish!
Now here is the thing… it is winter and I live in a seasonal town. I need to play gigs. Not only that, I want to play gigs. I want to be a singer as a job, yet my biggest block has always been the voices of doom in my head. So there I was, battling massively inside myself until something strange occurred.
Tuning into Creativity
I breathed in. I embraced those voices. I accepted what they were saying and I moved on. I remembered what I had heard about the ego just trying to protect us. I thought about being an adult, being able to choose my path and my destiny. I thought about what I loved within music. I began to focus on the positive aspects of singing and gigs, aspects that make my heart glow with a bright warmth. Genuine things that I feel deeply in my heart, not things I ought to be happy about, but aspects that make me smile.
I thought of the opportunity to bring my own style to a new audience. I thought of the idea that even though no one would come with me, I had a deep support with me. My higher self, my soul, the infinite field of the Universe that I believe supports and reflects us, and brings us to new opportunities and growth. I thought of the welcome money the gig would bring. I thought of the strength of myself as I embraced travelling on my own.
Suddenly the voices of my ego seemed small and insignificant because I had begun to listen to the voice of my heart instead. It is a more powerful voice yet quieter and subtler. Our hearts wait for us to get clear and deep breathing and focusing the mind is the way to hear it.
I girded my loins, got my gear in the car and began to accept my journey and job for that night. In the car, I put on my favourite play list and had fun singing all the way to the gig. I warmed up my voice and focused on the enjoyment of the music.
Needless to say, when I got to the bar, they were happy to see me. A few other friends turned up and I had one of the best times I have had for a long time. My voice sounded great to me, the mic was perfect and my guitar playing and amp all sounded fantastic. In short I had fun… for myself. I had stopped worrying about what anyone else thought. I stopped listening to the ego voice in my head. I tuned into my heart and played for the love and enjoyment of music.
There are some fundamental core themes to consider here. We are all creative. We all have the right and ability to talk to our hearts and make actions that will uplift and inspire us. We can all move into creating something if we want, be it small or large, a dance or a song, a cake or a poem. It doesn’t matter what level we are, creating is good for the soul – just watch children with paints, dancing or playing make-believe. We are allowed to feel silly, crazy, mad, embarrassed, inspired… whatever it takes. Most importantly, the apathy that comes from listening to our egos delaying tactics, the resistance to creating, the negative and judgemental ego-voices, all of these can be beaten. First by listening, then by embracing and if you are really brave, by expressing those emotions through whatever we choose to create with.
Perhaps the reason that art forms are considered fringe occupations is that it brings us close to our shadows and threatens to set us free.
Be brave. Much love.
Create February Fabulous! is an idea and challenge to show up to your own creativity every day for the month of February. It is a simple idea. The creativity can take any form, and take any amount of time. Any media, any discipline, the only condition is to have fun. No critics, no judgement, of self or others, just a celebration of our own unique human quality of creativity. You are encouraged to share your projects anywhere you like using the hashtag #createfebruary. Join the Facebook group, share on Instagram, blog about it, invite friends to some daily creativity. Let’s see what we can create together.
Matt Rivers is a singer/songwriter, musician, poet and writer of words. He is exploring the forests of consciousness, time and space, and surfing the waves of thought, love and being. He is passionate about rediscovering our inner creative flow, adding love and beauty to society and looking after our wonderful, amazing planet.