One of the things that matters to me is space in which I can be present to and authentic around my own emotional responses. Interestingly, I gather I can come across as a bit ‘heart on sleeve’ with this blog. That troubles me slightly, because this is so such a construct. What goes here is not the raw experience of the moment, but something I’ve had time to process, reflect on and squeeze into some kind of shape. My actual emotionality is a lot more immediate, but I’m a big fan of thinking about feeling and seeking to understand the currents of my own emotions.
There are many situations in which emotional honesty may not seem appropriate. Work situations would be an obvious example. Nonetheless, I’ve watched over the last few months how my emotional state impacts on my ability to work well. When I feel happy, am engaged with the work, feel emotionally secure and emotionally rewarded, I get a lot more done and the quality of my output is better. On the other hand, if workspaces are triggery and I feel that people are trying to control me, I can kick off into anxiety and my productivity decreases. I took the choice last week to be honest about this with someone I work with, and I think it’s going to help, but it was nonetheless an unnerving decision to contemplate. At work, we are not supposed to feel.
There are many human interactions that do not prompt strong emotional responses in me at all. I quite enjoy the fleeting contact I get with people who I feel neutral about. It can be easy and pleasant. I know it’s not providing what I most need, but the emotional connections are often difficult, and as risky as they are rewarding.
It is the human contact rooted in things that matter to me that tends to be the most emotionally affecting. I’ve always formed deep bonds with people I share music with. There’s a level of engagement in shared music that can transcend normal interaction and become very much an emotional dialogue. There used to be a few people in my life with whom I had that level of intensity and openness when we were playing together, and I’ve missed it. People with the technical skill and the open heart are not many, but there are some on my radar and I wait to see what happens.
My creative collaborations have always engendered a high degree of exposure of self and soul. Tom was my artist long before he was my lover, and it was the intensity of the shared working that drew us together. Other collaborations have brought deep friendship and potent connections. Where there is flow and trust, where no one needs to be in control and there is respect between participants, creative collaborations are wonderful things.
The trouble is, it doesn’t always go like that, and until you get in and try, it’s not obvious which way things might go. Creative partners can also turn out to be possessive, resentful of other people’s successes, jealous of the skills of their creative significant other. Co-creators can be paranoid, or control freaks, or both. It can turn out that one of them is aiming to ride on the coat tails of the other. That stuff hurts. It makes it harder to trust anyone, and harder to trust your judgement about who might be equal to those deeper, more involved connections.
I started last summer with my soul just beneath the surface of my skin, with my heart open, ready to trust and to try. I did not place that trust very well, and I’ve had to step back. It may well be that the people I should have chosen to work with have suffered as a consequence. I messed up. I put my faith in the wrong people, and it left me needing to retreat and regroup, to lick wounds, consider the bruising and try to work out what I actually want.
I do want those creative connections. I want people in my life I can trust and share with, where there is flow and connection, trust, respect and good things happen. I want those magical moments of finding myself on exactly the same wavelength as the person I’m with, where the ideas are streaming along. My two regular creative partners, Tom and Paul, have simply weathered my falling apart these last few months and supported me. I do not need to be cautious with them, and I will go back to those spaces, open hearted and ready to make stuff. I’ve had time to reflect, and have decided I’ll take the bruises and setbacks rather than protecting myself by not risking it. I’ll try to pick more carefully. What I want are people who see the heart on the sleeve and dare to show me theirs, rather than reaching for something to cut mine with.