Friday, January 20, 2012

Beautiful and thought-provoking quote

From the transcript of the January 15th, 2012 On Being episode in which Krista Tippett interviewed singer/songwriter/author Roseanne Cash.

Ms. Cash: Sure. You know when I first became a performer, I was so anxious about it and it took me a long time to grow into it, because I thought that being a performer was about getting a lot of attention and I didn't want that much attention. I liked the writer's life. I liked the privacy and the solitude and being inside my own little mind cave. And over time I realized that it's not about the attention, it's about the energy exchange. I'm doing something for them, but they're doing something for me too, you know? And there's no hierarchy really. It's — and some nights that exchange is so beautiful, you know, I can feel my own energy stretching out to the far reaches of the room and theirs coming back. And there's something sublime about it, and also the temporal nature of it that at the end of the night it's over.
Ms. Tippett: Right.
Ms. Cash: It's like a monk's sand painting, it's wiped clean. And so you can't grab it, you know, which is part of the — the mystical beauty of it. You can't repeat it. You know, the next night might be just awful, like, your energy might not expand beyond two feet beyond you and they are not giving you anything and it doesn't work, but you know, that's the way life is.
Ms. Tippett: Yeah, it's that spiritual discipline of knowing impermanence.
Ms. Cash: Knowing impermanence and showing up even though you don't know what's going to happen.
I love that! 

"...showing up even though you don't know what's going to happen." 

Isn't that gorgeous?
Aside from the fact that it was just...overall, a beautiful conversation about creativity and music and spirituality and how it all melds together, this particular snippet just captured my attention instantly. 

Here's what I loved about it:

First, it is so absolutely descriptive of my daily experience as a more or less psychodynamically-oriented, relationally-focused music therapist. I am not (really, I am NOT), by nature, what one would call a "flexible" human being. However, many years of practicing music therapy using this approach (and taking part in my own therapy, of course) has gotten me to a point where "showing up even though you don't know what's going to happen" has become okay. It's a concept I've grown into and have come to embrace with a comfortableness I would never have imagined for myself. 

Second, I was drawn in by Roseanne Cash's sharing of her struggle, as a musician and as a writer (basically, as an artist), to come to terms with her art- playing, performing, being musically present, which artistic voice to choose, and what all of that means to her. 

Periodically, people will ask me, "Does one have to be a good musician to be a music therapist?" And, until very recently, I've always responded with what my clinical supervisor has said to me, which is: "Well, the more accomplished you are as a musician, the more you have to offer your clients." And that still makes sense to me. 

But, in a recent email conversation with my colleague, Brian Abrams (who just had a terrific article published in the Arts in Psychotherapy journal), I realized that not only do we, as music therapists, benefit greatly from this type of engagement with our experience as artists and musical beings, but, on some level, maybe because of our chosen professions, we actually need to go through that kind of a struggle. 

Put another way, I think a willingness to come to terms with our own sense of what it means to be a musical self and building an identity as musicians and artists enables us to be present to our clients in a more profound, authentic, and meaningful way. 

You might even say it prepares us to  " up even though [we] don't know what's going to happen."


Becoming Dr Doc said...

Firstly, Love your new layout, it prompts me to have a look at mine :)

YES YES YES YES, a brilliant comment and it definitely reflects how I work in my music therapy practice. With children you never know what you are going to get from day to day, so this is brilliant. Thank you!!

Roia said...

Oh- thank you for the comment on the layout. I've been obsessing about it (shocking, I know), because I was perfectly happy with the previous one. But it shrank, and, not being technologically built (as it were), I had no idea how to fix it. Sigh.

The whole show is great, frankly. You could probably listen to the podcast. The whole "Being" website is full of gorgeous conversations and poetry and reflective, thoughtful sorts of things.

I suppose, now I think of it, none of us ever know what we're going to get in a day, and we just sally forth and do what we do.

Tamara G. Suttle said...

Roia, the new look on your website is phenomenal! I miss the little notebook looking lines but I also love the spaciousness of this one! How fun!

Thanks so much for talking about Roseanne Cash's interview! You know I'm not a music therapist but I, too, can relate to the need to show up and get comfortable with . . . not being in control, not knowing what's next, not always having an answer, etc. And, like you, getting there . . . getting to showing up and getting comfortable living with the questions (rather than the answers . . . .

Well, let's just say that has been a developmental process. It's been a journey for sure. Now that I think about it . . . NOW that's really the BIG ADVENTURE, isn't it? In fact, I think it always was . . . I just needed to learn how to let go of my death grip and enjoy the ride!

Roia said...

Hey Tamara, so glad to see/read your thoughts. Did you hear the interview? You're absolutely right on. As I was writing this post, I was thinking, "You know, Roia, this is really about all of us".

Your comment made me think of one of my favorite quotes from Rainer Maria Rilke (that I have framed within the context of a piece of artwork in my messy little home): "Be patient toward all that is unresolved in your heart...try to love the questions themselves...Do not seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them...Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing, live...into the answers."

Listen, my friend, I'm a fan of the old death grip myself. All I can say to that is: Sing it, sister! :- )