I want to share about the ways in which I’ve been opening up to a new understanding of what ‘living’ is about and letting go of a stifling rigidity that I’ve kept within an idea of what I like, enjoy, the kind of person I, what I dislike, what I’m supposed to be and do and I’ve been seeing how limiting all of that has been when confronted with new people, new ways of living, behaving, talking, expressing in day to day living – and of course also related to arts and music.
Well, it’s no mystery that a lot of my life is influenced by fellow creative people, especially when they are the kind that represent a joyful expression which to me contains a pinch of innocence, they seem to be ‘boundless’ and without a care so to speak in terms of how other people might see them, perceive them – in essence being carefree in their expression, not holding themselves back with ‘second thoughts’ or ‘what others will think of them,’ and to me that’s quite a precious quality in ourselves as human beings.
I recently learned from an interesting explanation about The Jonah Complex and the Fear of Greatness how we fear being different, we fear truly expressing ourselves, we want to conform and ‘blend in’ because we fear ‘standing alone’ in our own ways of being, essentially daring to be unique and so start fearing ‘to exist’ which means to emerge, appear, stand out and this eventually creating a ‘fear of life’ or fear of living, where we don’t want to be our own creators, we don’t want to achieve our greatness – which I read more as in creating our living potential – because that would mean changing, that would mean standing outside of our comfort zone, that means doing the actual work it means to create our individuality and own our creation. Yep, that’s the paradoxical nature of ourselves as human beings in our own minds and can definitely prove that.
I really enjoyed listening that explanation because throughout my life I’ve struggled in that polarity of realizing how much I could ‘stand out’ – which I’ve shared in a previous blog – yet because of caring too much about everyone’s feedback, I decided to step back, ‘cease to exist’ and seek for more ways to hide out, blend in, stand in the back/to not stand out, to remain limited and inevitably becoming and embodying that fear of truly standing out and being ‘me’ in whichever way I genuinely wanted and could be.
I went through a phase of first rebelling against anything that I didn’t want to achieve based on what everyone else was doing, which still led me to a form of limitation and still defining myself based on ‘not doing what everyone else is doing’ – which is the whole antagonistic personality I’ve shared a lot about in this blog before. But, I hadn’t really stepped outside of the paradigm to genuinely ask myself: what do I want to live? What do I genuinely enjoy? What do I want to create regardless of the ‘kind of person’ I think I am supposed to be? Or the kind of topics of interest that I thought ‘I was supposed to ONLY be interested on’? And I noticed how I was slowly but surely caging myself into an idea of who I had to be, look like, dress like, care about, act like etc. even though I could see all those moments that would come up within me wanting to do something different, wanting to test out certain expressions that I would see in others and would only ‘judge them’ for daring to express something that I wanted to express deep inside myself.
One of these aspects in the sheer ability to enjoy life. I know, sounds as if I’m veering into a ‘self conceited’ topic, but I will step outside of my own projections and say nope, this is actually the one point that I had refrained myself to do in an almost religious manner – and hell, I am still getting out of my cocoon on this one! – which has nothing to do with going into extremes of ‘libertinage’ when it comes to associating enjoyment with ‘parting’ or all kinds of excesses that we usually associate ‘enjoyment’ to be about.
Nope, actually this enjoyment is more of a decision in the most simple of moments, it’s not something that will suddenly ‘take over myself’ either or come up as an energy that I have to build up into ‘enjoyment!’ – no, this that I’m talking about it is more like an opening, a decision to express, to ‘step outside of myself,’ in essence to decide to exist in moments where I knew I wanted to express myself in such ‘carefree’ ways – yet would allow my ‘idea of self’ to dictate the way I was supposed to behave and look like at the eyes of others and the rest of it. But in fact, I am discovering that I am the most content, happy and joyful with and within myself when I have zero thoughts about how someone/others might be ‘perceiving me’ and in that I’ve found the most enjoyable quietness where I can simply ‘be’. And no, this doesn’t mean sitting in a quiet place and meditating, nope and it doesn’t also come as quick and simple as just ‘letting go’ – it is also the result of all of these years of working with myself, understanding my judgments, patterns and limitations, so that I can now be more comfortable in living the words that I want to ‘be’ and make exist as myself.
A clear example of this is how I started to listen to a type of music that I never thought I would get to be quite fond of. I would randomly hear a live band in my home town and they play very upbeat and generally joyful/happy music called Klezmer. I started listening to them every now and then around town 2 years ago, and I remember standing there with my then partner and having the impulse to move my feet, my knees, to kind of dance to the beats of that music – yet, the ‘rigidity’ of my own personality would come out in ways of ‘oh no, that would not be ‘me’ liking this kind of happy, joyful music’ – yet slowly but surely, I kept creating an interest in listening to them playing it and would stand still while listening to it, yet inside myself started kind of dancing to the tunes and enjoying those moments.
Well, long story short, after many times of listening to them in my frequent trips walking downtown, it is only now that I’ve been able to move my feet and legs and head around when listening to them, and yep knowing that people are watching and sometimes ask me if I’m ‘with the band’ lol, but nope and no, I don’t put on a show either, haha! But it’s been mostly children thus far that I’ve seen moving their bodies to the sound of the music, because that’s mostly what that music is for! Yet most adults – including myself in the past – would focus on enjoying the music and maybe craving to move around or bob our heads yet we kept bound to ideas of ‘how we are supposed to be’ or ‘not knowing how to dance that kind of music’ or ‘what will others say if we start moving around? I actually enjoy standing there while the band is playing and looking at people’s facial reactions, some do move around a bit while they pass by and so I’ve made it a point to learn from those few and in between that have dared to dance along or move around, including the guys in the band which is something I also appreciate from creative people in general, being quite ‘gutsy’ – for a lack of a better word – to own their individuality, show their courage in their expression and share it in a carefree manner – and by ‘carefree’ I mean without judgment towards themselves and therefore without projected judgments coming from others.
No matter how much one walks through ‘judging oneself,’ I find that one has to find an actual way to work through it in a practical and physical manner. To me, making paintings is one, learning to own my creation no matter how it looks, no matter if I ‘like it’ or not, but see them all as part of a process to express myself, to actually live my potential and I’ve met some people in the past weeks that represent that genuine expression of enjoyment in who they are through their creative process. And in this I don’t mean that everyone has to look at artists as a source of inspiration, to me that’s just how it has usually been throughout my life. It can be any other person that in their field of expertise or interest are really good at doing something and seeing how much they enjoy doing so is a source of inspiration, because they represent that potential that we can develop for ourselves in our own ways and lives.
Many times I’ve wallowed within myself when comparing ‘me’ and ‘my creations’ to those of others, and it seems that generally this obnoxious sense of comparison is a constant judgment that I bring up to sabotage myself – therefore what do I know? I can only remind myself about the uniqueness and individuality that each individual represents, to stop seeing others as a point of measurement for my own life or creations, and always remember that there is no point in comparing or judging how I express, what I express and the ways in which I go developing such expressions, because that’s a unique process to me and myself only. And in that, I can nurture myself from the many examples that I’ve found in people’s expressions, doesn’t matter how ‘simple’ it might be, it can start with having the ‘guts’ to sing out in public or play music in the streets – anything that I would consider as something that I would probably enjoy doing yet would not ‘dare’ to do it, I can then learn to see what words these people represent that I am not living myself. And what comes up is having that courage to express myself.
Yesterday as I was listening to this band playing live, they had no fears to change places in instruments and play in front of everyone their own practice of learning a new instrument, and even if the songs didn’t come out ‘perfectly’, I definitely appreciated the fact that they had no qualms about it or keeping their ‘practice/learning process secret’ but simply did it out there in public. And also being genuine when it comes to not lying about ‘enjoying every single moment of playing,’ but being quite honest on how tiring it can be, yet at the same time being inspired by the expressions that this music brings out in people – and kids specially – which is quite awesome to witness.
So, this kind of music and the way these guys have come to create their band is quite unique in the sense that many of them might have been professional musicians, but some others didn’t know how to play any instrument, yet they had the will and courage to learn and be part of the band, so they learned an instrument in order to be part of it. It has made me consider how many times we admire people like musicians or any other form of performers because they have gotten to do something that we have yearned to do, which is to express, create and stand out with it in the world, to dare to exist beyond one’s own 4 closed walls.
Where am I in this process of having the courage to express myself? Definitely in the beginning stages, even more so considering how much I had to shed this idea that I could not enjoy life or had to suffer or could not just ‘be happy’ because ‘the world is not a happy place,’ yet I see for myself how people daring to do this in their lives becomes a source of inspiration for everyone else to dare to do what each one of us actually wants to do, and actually do it! Have the courage to do it, dare to ‘stand out’, daring to be unique, daring to not follow the crowd – not from an antagonistic or rebellious way but based on understanding our capacity to live in a very unique way that in turn, may inspire others to do the same in their lives, and that’s who I want to be and what I want to be, to give that back to the world based on all that I’ve learned from many, many people that have inspired me in my life and that have assisted me – without them even knowing – in becoming who I am today.
So, part of what I’ve been looking at in terms of embracing myself, my looks, my physical feature as the totality of ‘me’ – which I have judged as ‘odd’ – I can embrace within that uniqueness that I decide to live as myself, and reminding myself every time that I start going into judgments about myself and projecting it towards others, I have to remind myself how present I can be when I am judgment-less, when moving my limbs a bit when listening to this music out in the public in downtown and each time that I dare to do it more often, it feels more liberating and I become the most quiet and joyful and not in an ‘overt’ manner, but in that genuine ‘hereness’ of expression, because I’m simply there with the music, moving with it and there’s no thoughts, no fears, no expectations… and it’s hard at times to have those moments in one’s day, but I found that this is one of my moments of enjoyment, to have that ‘me’ time if you will yet sharing it with others at the same time.
And! No pressure if there’s no ‘live band’ I can dance to, I’ve been also playing some music that invariably leads me to want to dance as well, which is another interesting thing based on how I had thought that ‘I don’t like dancing anymore’ but I just hadn’t found the kind of music that I genuinely and almost naturally want to move my body to, which has been a cool discovery for myself as well and letting go of ideas that I had to like a particular ‘kind of music’ to ‘dance to.’ Hell no, we are the only ones that create our limitations. So I am definitely in that phase of challenging my own expression-limitations, breaking them apart and in that discovering the little bits of self-enjoyment I had held myself back from for such a looong time.
So for anyone out there, I can only suggest to have a look at where or in what/who do you find inspiration to self-express, what it means to embrace your creative self and I am not implying this is only an ‘art creation’ thing, nope – every human being is a creator, so in that we all are creating every single moment – most of the times without awareness! – therefore, if we become self-aware creators and in that determine the ways that we want to live every moment, the ways that we want to challenge our boundaries, our personalities, our fears, we will slowly but surely go realizing the potential that has always ‘been here’ as ourselves, just covered up with our fears, memories, excuses, reasons, justifications and preferences that have limited ourselves from getting to know ourselves and enjoy ourselves in the process.
Ok that’s it! Have fun
Here I share some of the music including this live band that I am speaking of here, which I actually got to record because I’ve become friends with the band J
Colectivo Klezmorino – Festival Rodarte
And! a taste of the other band I’ve been enjoying to move around to
DakhaBrakha: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert
And this painting I made within the starting point of expressing me, having fun, while being inspired by the music represented in the image of the band itself
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