When you’re young and hungry and passionate and inspired and unproven there’s a lot of beauty staring you right in the face. You only see a percentage of it. The stuff that echoes what you think you are looking for gets your attention. But if you really seek out beauty like it is necessary for your survival you eventually cycle back through yesterday’s notes and take another pass through some things that previously blended in to the periphery. I’ve encountered Alice Russell & Quantic separately, many times before, doing layout for a soul music magazine years ago but they never registered as strongly as this song did the other day and I haven’t stopped listening to it since.
A dear friend sent me this link after I had a long day. It was like a cool glass of water after a day spent breaking rocks. I was already familiar with the artists but had never been so grateful for their art. Gratitude is the difference. They made my day better.
I was recently enjoying a post on Luck Stone’s Values Based Leadership site about preparation and process as it relates to leadership. Read that post. It’s fundamental and substantial. It included the phrase “it’s what you do before you do what you do that matters most” which reminds me of a story that sticks with me. I learned this story while studying the topic of mindfulness. I’m sure it was a Thich Nhat Hanh book but don’t recall which so I’ll paraphrase from memory:
There is a monk that writes beautiful poetry and the people in his life and the nearby city regard his poetry very highly. They see it as a beautiful Art that brings happiness to the world. He also loves to grow lettuce in his garden. Lettuce is easy to grow but difficult to maintain because it is fragile. Insects and animals eat it before it can be harvested and very little of it actually makes it to the kitchen. One day the monk is teaching a student about meditation practice and mindfulness and she asks, “Teacher, why do you bother growing lettuce. Anyone can grow it and it requires so much attention. You’re time would be so much better spent creating more beautiful poetry for people to enjoy.” And he replied to her, “I write beautiful poetry because I grow lettuce.”
This parable summerizes the notion of interbeing and illustrates the idea that “everything affects everything.” Interbeing is a broadly debatable concept but we can understand and accept it easily on a minute scale. If we sleep well and eat a healthy breakfast, this simple act has an impact on the other things we do that day. It prepares us to be more capable of unlocking greater potential in our day by functioning at a higher level, communicating a better sense of being and encouraging the world to embrace our place in it. So this one seemingly isolated task, “tills the soil” for other outcomes.
These topics also remind me of a cautious insight. It can be a fine line between preparation and procrastination. On one hand, if you don’t allow enough space in your day to have a friendly conversation, enjoy some music or take in a beautiful view then your focus and engagement diminishes. On the other hand, if you try too hard to embrace all of the interceding opportunities for inspiration you can hop from distraction to distraction and slip into rationalized procrastination.
Most artists or creative professionals know this well. We make coffee, organize our area, supplies and desktop, listen to music, clean out our inbox all in the name clearing clutter and tilling the mental soil. I call this prep-crastination and when I notice myself doing it I embrace it for a couple more minutes as I commit to a starting point and choose a progress milestone to meet before allowing another break “inspiration” break. By letting my discipline and inspiration coexist or even collaborate I can often cultivate a better experience or work product and clearer vision for success.
Today, I’m actually really enjoying the snow that no one predicted. However, since my mind cross references every bit of speech I hear with a comprehensive mental database of Simpson’s dialog, I’ve been saying “Lousy Smarch weather” under my breath all day for self entertainment.
Not only is it completely applicable to today’s unforetold snow event but it’s a print production and proof reading joke so it feels like a joke that was crafted for me to enjoy. I was really excited to see that there is an excerpt of this exact scene on YouTube. So I will commemorate this late spring snow layer with a “bookmark” blog post.
Reposting a momentous meme. This one spoke to me conceptually and immediately conjured questions. Could a Vulcan express himself musically? Music is math but it’s also emotion. Maybe Spock’s “music” is more a mode of expressing encoded meaning. Like morse code with notes for reasonable context. Either way the inherently contrary image sparked my synapses, remixing my nostalgia for 70s music icons with a cold rational sense of extra terrastrial mystery. No matter what Nimoy actually played off set while still dressed as Spock, I’d like to hear it.
Brubeck’s Take Five can hit me the right way on the right day and make me laugh audibly from an otherwise disinterested mood. It would be too easy to post that song though, on the day of his passing. So dig this.
Flying Lotus made the audio for this short film project by Kahlil Joseph. The video is a beautiful thing. I love it when hiphop obliterates my expectations. Not sure if the video was inspired by music from Flying Lotus’s new album or if the album is a concept piece to support the short film. Chicken/Egg. Looking forward to checking it out further either way.
Cleaning out the junk drawers in my hard drive, I found this old freestyle composite from a few years ago. The idea was that a lot of the time people start to make progress they let up on the intensity of effort. This was to sum up the notion of executing with gusto.
During a late night scour of YouTube for rare reggae recordings, this ukulele adaptation of the Wailers’ “It Hurts to Be Alone” by an unknown, vaguely European fellow presented itself. Regarding the Wailers a bit seriously and tending to disapprove most attempts to repackage or update the music, I was utterly ready to discount what I had not yet seen. This honest little video won me over. I watched it 3 times before deciding it was good and a few more before actually really loving the interpretation. It’s a reinvention that is beautiful, humble and respectful.
Lee “Scratch” Perry is the chief Upsetter. A father of funk within the reggae genre before Funk was a thing, the man personifies a bit more of the mischief and shrewdness of an otherwise spiritually (self) romanticized genre of music. I once saw him perform at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta and the whole time he cursed the crowd and warned them/us of their/our inevitable demise as they/we cheers’d his patois disparagements, arms raised high with Pabst.
This new vinyl likeness of Perry really nails his flavor. I appreciate that the eyes don’t point in the same direction because that’s real. All of this said, I’m a fan.