On short phrases & short-sightedness
In public & online spaces, you are expected to have a clear direction. So I manufactured one, a direction so compelling I convinced myself to follow it with all my heart.
But with some hefty, unsolicited advice from family friends, I am no longer convinced my vision is sustainable.
It's like my flute-playing right now: I don’t practice anything to perform. Instead, I practice so that years of discipline & dedication don’t evaporate from my playing. I practice because it makes me feel complete. I practice because I hope for a time when I will perform. And that's all.
This summer, my only music project has been the clips of my practicing on this blog — the short phrases, the constant stopping & restarting. I developed this habit because it leaves no room for strain. Strain is what I uproot from my music-making when no one else is listening.
I started recording these fragments & sharing them here, because I have this peculiar belief that my sound is one of the most powerful contributions of my presence on this earth.
It’s a different kind of music — the sounds of a musician practicing, dismantling & reimagining possibilities within the notes.
When I practice for linear growth, the sound of my practicing is the act of reaching towards a future.
But these days, the sound of my practicing is the pretense that Time has stopped. There can be mistakes, because you can start again. The present is enough.
This approach revels in short-sightedness. It is content with each second as it comes, driven by a deeper trust that each second brings what it must.
When applied to the larger question of a career, this approach is idealistic & naive — words I write from a place of bitterness. Recently, some well-meaning family friends have pounded into me that I am selfishly wasting my talent, privilege, & education by trying to build a creative career on my own terms.
Yes, it is selfish. Yes, it is naive. Yes, I am guilty of not seeking to maximize the tangible impact my life can have upon the lives of those with less privilege.
But some people are so stubborn that they have to learn something the hard way, possibly when it's too late (i.e. when I'm 35 & need health insurance). I am stubborn enough that the recent onslaught of disparagement I have received for choosing to build my own career hasn't managed to sway me. It may tomorrow, but today I am still obstinately, selfishly, naively choosing to live this life on my own terms.
Notes on my practicing below:
At the start of this clip, you can hear the end of an exercise I use to reconnect a strong airstream with the beginning of sound. Then, I practice a phrase that has drifted into my memory. I think it’s from the Suite for Flute & Piano by Charles-Marie Widor.
My rhythm’s a bit all over the place, my breaths are slow — but I love playing this music. It welcomes the idealism & dreaminess that doesn't seem safe anywhere else.
Lastly, I returned to mainstream social media & drew strength from this advice from best-selling author & therapist Nedra Tawwab, as I struggle with the disparagement of well-meaning family friends.