“Being a songwriter is like being a nun. You’re married to a mystery.” – Leonard Cohen
True art grows. It is organic. It is surprising, even to the one making it. It comes from a place that is largely outside the realm of easy, pat explanations. It is a living thing.
It may seem like a strange comparison, but for me, the activity that is most analogous, is… gardening.
When you garden, there are certain things that you know, things that are within your sphere of control. You know you have the desire to grow things. You know you must first have seeds, and that they need to be planted in a good location, with good soil. You know you need to feed and water them daily. This knowledge, experience and skill is one half of the equation.
Yet sometimes, even with the most complete knowledge and the best care a plant will refuse to grow. You cannot rush the process. If you plant the seed and water it 100 times in one day, it will not grow 100 times faster; in fact it will likely die. You cannot pull it out of the earth to see if it is done yet.
Furthermore, when you get down to it at the deepest level, you have no real conception of why the plant grows, or what really drives this whole thing. It is a chaotic mystery that dances a long way out of your understanding. This mystery is the second half of the equation.
These two components exist in all forms of creative endeavour. They exist in writing, in visual arts, in dance, in conversation and in lovemaking. They exist in acting, film-making, architecture and cookery. They exist in life.
There are no answers. Nor should there be. A great part of art and life is: learning to simply accept the tides and currents and understanding how to ride these whilst staying open and present. In learning to accept and acknowledge the chaos, the mystery, the fears and the certainty of your own death, you can begin to truly live.
Settle in for the long haul. Love the process. Let go of your ideas of perfectly finished things. Cease trying to impose your will on the world. Understand what it is in your power to do, and do that as best you can.
I hope you are well and this is helpful. If it’s not then just disregard it.
Either way, we will celebrate together on Jan 31st.
My name is James Radcliffe and I am a 100% audience supported independent artist. If you like what I do (and can afford it) then please consider buying some of my music. Each purchase really makes a big difference to me and 10% of every sale goes to a charity which: houses, feeds, clothes, and educates orphaned children in Nepal.
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