Live in the moment. That's what I tried to do. Yet I had no idea I was literally looking for nothing.
Live For Now
For a significant part of my life, I struggled with being okay without external input or stimulation. I looked for ways to be satisfied with whatever is happening right now. I rarely found it though. Rather than simply noticing whatever is present, I was constantly seeking the next enticement.
In my creative pursuits, I was always hunting down the next inspiration. All the way up to my most recent music releases, I start with a theme and develop the tracks from that. (Of course, there's nothing wrong with that.)
During the early portion of the pandemic lockdown, my wife and I added a canine to our household. She is a “rescue dog”, so we know nothing about what kinds of treatment, trauma, or other experiences she had in her first year.
Skye, who we named for her piercing blue eyes, is frequently activated. (My wife is trained/certified in psychology and related arts, so I trust that this is an appropriate word to use.) Basically, if she sees or smells certain things — notably deer — she gets hyper-aroused and runs around the house. It can be even more challenging if we're out for a walk when she experiences this kind of activation. There are very few things that will distract or calm her at these times.
My search for inspiration reminds me of Skye's times of activation. I was always looking for ways to get hyped up to provide bundles of creative power.
The Bounty of Emptiness
In the face of this over-stimulation, I tried to build a sense of the present moment being enough. Like Skye, there was almost nothing that could distract me in those times, though. As I noted above, I rarely was able to settle in “the now”. I needed to find a different direction.
In one of my focus sessions (sort of like creativity coaching) with Kate Arms, I was using one of the improvisation forms we often use. During it, I discovered that I was exploring my experience “from nothingness”. I felt a sort of chill go up my spine. These are rarer as I get older, but this one was a full-body experience and I knew I needed to pay attention.
And so I did. Pay attention, that is. Not in a hyper-aroused way, but in the sense of simply noticing when that sense of nothingness arose. Each time, I was able to stay with that experience for longer.
The most exciting part of this exploration was when I started to compose music from nothingness. In a few weeks, you'll hear what I mean. For now, I encourage you to think of nothing and see what happens.