Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Riddim of Fear

I live in fear.

Dramatic statement huh? Verges on the melodramatic even. It's true however. I'm always worrying about something and unfortunately this world contains plenty of real things to worry about.

I had a childhood filled with fear and anxiety. From the neighbour kid who terrorized me to my father the alcoholic, there was little safety in my young world. In a sense I've been programmed to worry.

This is the sort of thing that adults are suppose to "just get over". I've heard that too many times to bother counting. As a grown-up somehow the insecurities are suppose to magically go away. Or so many people imply. Apparently acknowledging them is "whining" and makes you less of man.

Everyone has fears and insecurities, even the most well adjusted of folks. The difference lies in how well you cope with them, and well, sometimes I don't cope at all.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a coward in the strict sense. I've been robbed five times at knife-point and the last time I hit the guy with a piece of pipe and chased him out of the store. The other day at work I spotted a guy who, many years ago, assaulted me. Got convicted of it even. I stepped right up and kicked him out, even though the last time we'd stood eye to eye he had his forearm across my throat and his fist over my face.

And yet I fear. Constantly and systemically.

In music this has led to not trying. I'm not sure what outcome I fear if I really put an effort into it. I'm unlikely to get gunned down in a rap war; the worst that could happen is no one would like it.

This is the nature of the fear. It's illogical and unwarranted. It floats inside my head looking for something to justify it. I can rationally see what's happening but that doesn't help. Emotions are the stronger force, they work at a level that comes before conscious thought.

I wonder if this shows in my playing. In recordings I always feel like I sound tentative. I'm not the most objective observer though, but surely it must be there. It's such a part of me that in one way or another it informs everything else I do.

So once again the theme: "What the hell do I do about this?" and the familiar slapback echo: "Fucked if I know." are the riddim of my life.


d-ray said...

Yeah... I can relate to fear leading to me not trying to be creative. Even though my creative work is such a huge part of who I am. I am presently working through a lazy phase. I'm getting over it though. I finished my first draft of this 'paradigm' for creative process. Now I get to play with it. Just have to get started that's all.

My strategy at the moment is to know what comes next. If you've been doing exactly the same thing over and over again for months or years, maybe you're just bored and need a change. Do something with your guitar that blows away all the boundaries you've ever come face to face with in your musical history. Even if it's just for a while it can be refreshing, and most important... stimulating.

I guess I move through my fear by setting up opportunities for myself to be creative. Once I've committed to something my work ethic takes over and I work my ass off to create and complete the project. The fear is still present but now I have stress to motivate me. This may sound kind of negative.... but trust me when I say it can also be very, very positive.

I also think that sometimes we crave a creative change. It sounds to me like this "kinetic bicycle sculpture" your working on is pretty creative and not just technical or mechanical. Give yourself some credit for all of your current passions and pursuits. Don't feel obligated to always channel your creative self into one discipline. And when you do feel inspired to play music, make it playful and stimulating.

bonne chance mon amie,

Anonymous said...

Hi Sweetie,

Funny you should be writing about fear lately because I was thinking of just that last night. So many people are paralyzed by fear - fear of making mistakes, fear of not being good enough, fear of being judged by others, fear of our own judgement. These things keep us from being creative, which is a true shame.

I find I'm most creative and most productive when I'm the busiest or when I'm facing a deadline for my creative endeavors (part of being a free-lance musician and artist). I indulge in 'stolen' moments of time when I should be doing something else to express myself creatively.

Being creative can take so many forms. When we have all the time in the world, there is too much time to 'wait for inspiration to come,' or to judge any idea before it even comes to fruition. Too bad.

I've started painting canvases again. I'm having a ball with it. I have no technical training, but I have a keen sense of observation and have been spending a lot of time (relative, compared to the past) at the National Gallery looking at all kinds of art. My approach to painting is just to put various gels and colors on a pallet and just go to it. I don't judge anything. I just do. And it feels great! Not everything is great, or even good for that matter, but it's in accepting that there is a natural progression to learning. Some are good for right now, and I may even hate them in the future when I get better. But I'm ENJOYING the process. And the release is so great!

When it comes to song-writing, however, I get the best ideas for lyrics or melodies when I'm either driving, in the shower, or asleep. So I keep a tape recorder nearby to try to capture the line or hook when it's there. Most of the time I can't seem to recapture what I thought was magical, however, rather than being frustrated by not capturing it, I embrace the fact that I created something temporary, for the same reasons that I spend hours drawing in the sand when the creation is so temporary and no one else is going to enjoy it (or judge it, for that matter).

Art should be like eating sushi for the first time: Don't think. Just do.

MJ xx

PS: Funny you should post a picture of a shark, because for some odd reason, it's the biggest tangible, non-emotional thing (unlike fear of losing someone I love, fear of a broken heart, or fear of hurting myself) I fear in this world. And I'm headed to Mexico in a few days for some surfing and kayaking. Yeah...

Coelecanth said...

Guys, you're not suppose to give me all this stuff to think about!

D-ray: I can see what your getting at. One problem is that I'm not putting myself forward enough. There's no consequences to not completing a project so I inevitably don't.

I don't think I'm bored. Lately I just haven't had time and that's my excuse for giving in to the fear. Twisted huh?

The bike, despite calling it a sculpture, it really is just a bike. It is a creative project in that it will be completely unique by the time I'm done. I spent a lot of time envisioning what I wanted in my chosen form of transport that I wasn't getting out of the bikes I have. Art? Not really, but definitly creative.

Ah MJ, I've also heard "Just do it." too many times to count. I know what you mean and you've got a valid point, but that blind leap is something that I have great trouble with. As I said the fear exists without any source. Given any reason at all, for example a new endeavour, I surfaces whether warrented or not.

Really good point about not judging though. I've tried that on occasion, just slap the idea down without any self-censorship, but it's hard. Turning off the internal critic is a tough skill to learn. Especially when you know you're going to have to look at it critically at some point. Despite my obvious genius, not every idea is a winner. :)

I do enjoy the process of music making, I must or I wouldn't still be in a band that never gigs and rarely records.

Anyway, enjoy your trip. Very jealous.

Thanks guys, lots of useful stuff there!