Mind-Body Connection, Pt. 4 - Merely Present

Sep 10, 2014

I am a dreamer.

Guitarist/composer/writer/teacher Robert Fripp exemplifies not only virtuosity and musical innovation, but has taught, by example, how to survive the crazy life of the professional musician.

Far worse when I was young when just about everything jolted me or made me fearful. To counterbalance, I developed a strong imagination. My mother told me that I never needed entertaining; that hours spent with clay, comics, TV or outside activities largely kept me engaged.

But my dreaming nature created a mind that easily left the room. In short, being truly present, controlling or crawling out of that dream state, was an issue that followed me through adolescence and well into my adult years.

Live performance can be a lightning bolt to our attention or "presentness." I think that's why I developed a love-hate relationship of performing live. A huge adrenaline rush, which is suppressed to stop shaky hands, and the inevitable feeling that an invisible glue has been poured over my fingers seems to be the norm. Plus, it always sounds better in the safe confines of rehearsal.

At least, that's how I used to feel.

All aspects of living, including music making, are so much more in accord with one another these days. This is not to say things are in a state of perfection, but rather there seems to be a reckoning and reconciliation of all the disparate and contrary impulses that often haunt we creative types.

I attribute this largely to age. Besides the back issues, acid reflux, the perpetually high triglycerides and a host of health related hassles, experience brings a mellowing to all things.

But more important is feeling present to my life.

Robert Fripp has this to say:

"During the first week, some of you may have heard me banging on about being present. If we are not present, we are not. Nothing happens. But, problematically, nothing-happening generates a stream of inevitable consequences and repercussions which are, strictly, unnecessary; but accumulate alongside the necessary repercussions from our proper activities, and act to weigh us down.

Becoming present is the beginning, and very simple beginning-to-begin is to bring part of our attention inside the right hand, or another limb: a touch inside. We experience the distinct quality of being alive, directly and immediately. One characteristic of this experience is that it takes place in the moment. Not yesterday, not tomorrow, but this particular now. From here, everything else follows. Otherwise, we are subject to the vagaries of weather.

A key point, easily overlooked, is that to bring our attention within the hand requires both choice and decision. This engages the will, whatever we might understand by that. But, for now, good to have the information.

What follows? We choose to become present, again. When our practice is more established, becoming-present we find something-already-waiting-for-us. We have become more substantial, better able to act on the promptings of what we see and feel to be the right course of action.

Being more-fully who-we-are enables us to be more-fully with others, and working with others is necessary for us to become more-fully who-we-are. At a certain point, a group emerges from within a team, and in a group something becomes possible that, otherwise, would remain highly unlikely."

And I may add, "Amen."