I always try to believe the best of everybody -- it saves so much trouble. Rudyard Kipling:
I’ve been thinking about Ego this week. Ego has come up on my tour where I witnessed some exploding Egos, an Ego self-destruct before my eyes and had a radio interviewer project their ideas of being a performer onto me. Revealing the details of the distasteful acts is too much like gossip so I’ll spare you the ugliness. Suffice to say that thank goodness for my training. As one performer was going off on me complete with name calling and false accusations I began to get angry then asked for help from my much wiser soul. Suddenly a feeling of compassion and even embarrassment for the frothing ego in front of me took hold. I stopped and said I was done with this conversation and walked away....not as cleanly as I would like but I ended it.
I believe when I perform I am expressing freedom. The freedom that comes from knowing I am doing exactly what my gifts, abilities, dedication and hard, hard, work allow me to do. The urge to express and create is compelling for me. “It” drives me not the desire to be celebrated, recognized, win awards or even make a living. If the arthritis in my joints got so severe I couldn’t play any instruments I would sing A Cappella. The point being is that the need to express, the creative force surging in my dreams even, is strong and regardless of instrument or art form it will be expressed. The Ego cannot sustain self-expression or inspiration; it can only sustain delusions, self delusions. Performing, doing interviews, marketing and promotion are the vehicles we use as artists to communicate and connect with others. A song only comes to life for me when someone hears it. In that communication that is creation recognizing itself. And that is cool.
An example of how Ego stagnates things is when musicians or writers have “blocks.” Blocks, I think, happen when the artist thinks they can create something and so draws on their limited power complete with all the baggage and self delusion they possess. Soon the superficial reality of Ego gets angry and resentful that people just don’t get it and it feeds itself convincing us we are above and superior to everyone etc. ICK! What a load of compost. I know. I’ve been there. Not anymore thankfully. I know I must feel something real and let it gestate in me so that when I come to my music all that feeling meets with my years of training, insight, skill, muscles, breath and now a distillation of that experience is communicated through an instrument and ultimately a microphone, a recording, a product…etc. Then I have to write about it, send it out to radio stations, Magazines, Newspapers, Promoters, Booking Agents, etc. etc etc. and subject that deeply personal experience to criticism, reviews, sales and play charts, audiences that sometimes listen and sometimes don’t. So I ask you…What Ego? I’m self-employed musician, a Journeyman; there is no time or room for Egotistical thinking. Are you kidding me? Anyone who chooses to subject themselves to this sometimes wrenching process should be examined not celebrated. Not that I’m whining mind you. I just think giving a working musician’s point of view regarding Ego might be entertaining.
Sometimes friends will tell me, like 6-months after a gig, they really thought my concert or interview was great but didn’t want to tell me at the time because I might get a big head. I just laugh and say right driving myself 22 hours to do a gig is really A-list. So why do I do it? Because I have something unique to express and I’m completely open to sharing that experience with an audience. Volunteering at Hospice, adopting Racing Greyhounds, being my friend’s caretaker after surgery and seeing just how happy my music makes people sustains me and keeps me absolutely grounded to the fact that relationships are most important. They connect us. Recently I had a few extra hours before a gig in
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope I’ve revealed something interesting, insightful or at least entertaining. I always welcome your comments.