I’ve been making a lot of changes to how I work and live, and also trying to shift how I think about things. I’ve come to the conclusion that I have to do the work that is meaningful to me, and if I can’t make that pay the bills, I have to find some other stuff to fill in with. (Probably tutoring, but we’ll see what comes.) Alongside that, I’ve also come to the conclusion that time off for rest and play is essential. To which end we went to the pub last night. A man walked into the bar carrying a banjo. This is not the opening of a banjo joke, bear with me…
A bunch of other guys turned up with guitars, and as we were in their corner, asked if we minded and set up around us. We didn’t mind, and they didn’t seem to mind us, either. I haven’t had much live music in my life recently, so this felt like a treat. They kicked off with ‘Ride on’ and it boded well. Between the musicians, sat a box, of rather distinctive shape, which nobody opened. Now, I haven’t had the violin out all winter, and I haven’t played a viola in about two years. When they played REM’s ‘Losing my Religion’ – a song I used to do with my good friends Dave and Andy Simpson, I realised I had to ask. Fear of failure became outweighed by need to try. I asked what was in the box. Yes, it was a viola, and the guy who owned it had only been playing a year and was mostly sticking to his guitar. Yes, I could borrow it.
It took me a moment or two to figure out where my fingers needed to be, and then it all came back, and we jammed and it was good, and I now know where else they meet up to play and have an invitation to go along. Apparently they’d been hankering after getting a fiddler for some time.
Happy accidents. They seem to turn up more when I’m looking for them, and when I’m already doing the right things for the right reasons. Right place, right time, right people. If I’m in the wrong place doing the wrong things, there’s little chance of that happening. This morning we had a lie in, and as a result missed the rain, and moved the boat in sunshine. Win. The running hard, pushing hard, has not worked much, and mostly wears me out. The time spent on curiosity, exploration, play, experimentation, pays off. Almost always. I can feel a perceptible difference between pushing, and flowing with what is. The flowing only works when I invest care, creativity, and my very best work. It’s not a sloth option, but it calls for being more attuned to the whole right place, right time vibe. Turning up, doing, daring. The more I rethink how I go about my life, the more convinced I become that taking risks, doing what speaks to my soul, and trying to be the very best that I can, (not merely the most marketable that I can) is where the good stuff lies.
How I work has changed so much in the last few months. Including how I think about my work and what I actually produce, and how I feel about it. More on that tomorrow.