I’ve always been one to want control. Why? I’m a perfectionist. So- control is a way of making sure that things get done right, by my method (which is the right way). I get to oversee the process and know exactly how to fix it if it gets broken because I’ve been involved the whole way. Lately though, I’ve been feeling out of control, and I think I’ve been doing things to compensate and make myself feel as though I’m in control.
I haven’t written in a long awhile, mainly because writing always leaves me weary. It makes me feel inadequate- like I could always do more. Writing is a process- a long, painful and difficult one. I cannot expect to turn out the great American novel in one night. Still if I’m a writer, then there has to be some enjoyment in the process, or else why would I gravitate towards it? Writing CAN be fun. It’s just the time leading up to it – getting myself into the frame of mind and shutting out all distractions, is another thing. So, to fulfill my creative urges, I’ve turned to music.
I’ve forgotten how much I enjoy playing piano. I don’t strive to be the next Youtube star or Van Cliburn winner. I like the feeing of accomplishment when I’ve completed a piece. There is pain sure- when I’m still learning the notes, or when the playing isn’t fluid, and I have to play a section over and over again because it’s just not turning out right. But the moment that it starts to jive, it’s magic. It’s amazing because it starts to come together. I have control over that. Start to finish. Someone put those notes on paper and I’m reading them, I’m making them alive through my fingers and musicianship. I can’t imagine a greater feeing of control.
Writing is the opposite. I feel completely slave to it. There is no direction. I hardly ever know what to do. You’d think there’d be some freedom in knowing that, but it’s like jumping into a void without a parachute. Why would I want to do that?
Artists always talk about this moment of submission during the process of creation. Mozart would say that he never really ‘wrote’ any music. He listened and saw himself as a receiver of God’s music. He saw himself as merely taking dictation of something already perfectly created by a greater being. He let go. He surrendered himself to that experience and he is the most well-known and prolific musician in all history because of it.
As I took my earbuds out to leave the coffee shop after writing, I recognized a very familiar tune. Right then in that very ordinary Peet’s Coffee, one of the most famous arias, “The Queen of the Night,” composed by Mozart himself, pierced through the air.
I looked around completely dumbfounded, but also not very surprised. When I write, I realized that what I’m communicating doesn’t go into the ether. The universe, God, nature, they all work in concert to serve your creative urges, if you have enough courage to pick up the pen and start. That day, God communicated to me in the only way he knew I’d understand. Or perhaps the only way he knew I would listen.