I have recently found inspiration in a series of interviews with Patti Smith that the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen has released. She sure is a wise lady. I knew nothing of Patti, really, before I saw some of these videos, and there is a lot more for me to dig up about her. But I immediately appreciated her encouraging words and how human she is. I got the sense that she isn’t performing a role; instead she is comfortable with herself and the world because of her accepting of the range of deep and real emotions, experiences, pain and injustices that come with being human. She has found peace with the swaying of hardship and joy. She spoke to something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately: that the space created for the acceptance of pain and sadness creates the same amount of space for the acceptance of joy and wonder. I think that in order to experience the highs, we have to experience the lows. I think, too, that if we don’t accept that life is full of suffering and sadness, life is less full. Or at least that is my experience….it sounds like Patti has some similar ideas! “We’re going to be really happy, and things are going to be really fucked up too,” she says.

For much of 2013, I have been deeply concerned with how I will make money through my music-making. I have found that this fixation sucks out a lot of my joy of making music and wipes out potential for creativity and playfulness. I don’t want my relationship to music and creativity to be dominated by thoughts of making a career. Although I do need to be realistic and consider how tough this branch is, be aware of the financial instability of this path and that I always need to challenge myself, grow and be innovate and flexible, being so concerned with making money does not help me become a better musician. I must trust my ambition and desire to learn in order to understand that each of my actions will lead to something fruitful, even when it didn’t necessarily feel that way in the moment.

Something has shifted just in this last week, though (in part due to this interview, seeing a great documentary about Swedish musician/singer-songwriter Jenny Wilson [of First Floor Power] and other random experiences, thoughts and conversations) and I have understood how this attitude towards music has been inhibiting my ability to move forward and grow. I have been caught up in indecisiveness about if I want this to be my career; well really my difficulty to commit was spooking my ability to focus. A few nights ago, I was reflecting upon Patti Smith and Jenny Wilson and suddenly thought to myself, “What am I holding back for? I WANT TO BE AN ARTIST! Why do I pretend otherwise?” So, there we go. Now it is time to let go of my inability to commit, and commit to being a more self-truthful, honest and open artist (in whatever form that crazy and loaded words takes) who is seeking to shed my fears of inadequacy and instability. At the end of the day, not being good enough is not the point. It is not up to me to decide who or how I send out ripples into my surroundings.

Enter Martha Graham quote!!!! “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, or how valuable, nor how it compares to other expressions. It is your business to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself, or your work. You have to keep open and aware to the urges that activate you. Keep the channel open.”

So, things Patti has reminded me of:

-It doesn’t matter what we want. We just have to know what it is and honestly, genuinely, bravely go adventuring for it even if it is hard and scary.

-Don’t make compromises. Do what you want to the fullest extent you can. Easier said than done with financial, structural and emotional realities, but it’s a good thought to have to propel us forward and to give us strength.

-It’s not worth it to NOT seek your personal truth and not do what you want to the best of your ability. What else are we here for? There are so many reasons why we are inhibited to doing exactly what we want based on many structural inequalities (i.e. a racist, classist, sexist, ageist, beauty-centered society), and I recognize that my access to focus on the arts from an early age is also an issue of class and privilege. But we all have a truth and all have a desire to seek it out. I am really understanding how important it is to dream despite these boundaries and imagine what we want in order to break them. Again, easier said than done.

Remedios Varo-Celestial Pablum, 1958

Remedios Varo: “Celestial Pablum”

Also, this band called Cure-a-Phobia that a friend introduced me to is worth a listen (or a few!). They were music students at Malmös Musikhögskola and formed a band outside of their studies to help each other overcome their biggest fears about music. The point was to create a space that was void of prestige, to be vulnerable with one another and to make mistakes and learn from them. Not only is the idea fantastic, but I love their music as well. It is playful, honest, human and rich. Besides, the singer (who also wrote most of the songs) is really good!!!

Here is the interview with Patti:

Check out more of the weekly Louisiana videos on art, music and design on their Vimeo channel!

So, onward and outward and forward and inward and upward and downward and sideward and aroundward! We can’t help it make some sort of -ward movement! Things to think about: the fallacy of joy? What is joy and how is it constructed by society, ourselves, capitalism? What is satisfaction? When are we satisfied and how do we know to be satisfied or not?