Start From Where You Are

DAY 12

Here I am with nothing to say.

For the past few weeks I’ve been taking a lot of notes. They pile up in my computer, and in my journal. They will all eventually become something cohesive. A book, perhaps, or maybe something less concrete. Ideas and thoughts tumble out of me, I write them down as quickly as I can, often another one comes before I have finished writing the last one.

But now, I am here with nothing to say.

So I am going to reveal a little of my process, by sharing with you some of my recent notes:

I feel like a spider, simultaneously building several webs at once.

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For creative flow and productivity:

If you come to an obstacle with a project, immediately move onto something else, to keep the momentum going. Therefore you need several projects going on at once, so you can easily move from project to project, instead of letting the obstacle stop you from being productive at all. 

* * * *

A bohemian lives outside the laws of culture, while engaged in the ideas of culture.

* * * *

When I was in graduate school for counseling psychology and expressive arts therapy, my friend  Holly and I connected with a phrase: “start from where you are.” One day I was talking to Holly about how I was having trouble with my music, and I listed off my criticisms of myself. She suggested we write a song about it, and we did that night. We both contributed lyrics about the things we told ourselves when we felt stuck with making music. We later recorded it and sang it as a duet with our guitars at graduation. 

Where I am

by Holly Mae & Zoë

 

I’m so bored

With playing the same chords.

Over and over and over again.

 

My friend says

This is a test

Of how you’re living in the world.

 

I think she may be right.

But I don’t want to admit it tonight.

 

I can’t strum up.
It fucks my thumb up.
I can only play rock-n-roll down strums.

 

I can’t sing

for anything.

But I got a voice that’s shy and course.

                            

And you’re using it right now.
You don’t have a choice anyhow.

 

I’m gonna start from where I am.

(I think I like the way I play.)

With no memory or plan.

(I think you’ll love me anyway.)

I’m gonna offer who I am.

(I think I like the way I play.)

I’ll be my own biggest fan.

 

I’m so mad cuz

I’m so bad at

Lyrics that don’t really rhyme so good.

 

I’m so sad

Cuz I’m not rad, 

Or hip or cool or whatever the word is.

 

At least you’re holding your guitar

This is where we are so far.

 

I’m gonna start from where I am.

(I think I like the way I play.)

With no memory or plan.

(I think you’ll love me anyway.)

I’m gonna offer who I am.

(I think I like the way I play.)

I’ll be my own biggest fan.

 

Do Do Do

Do Do Do

Do Do DO DO DO DO Do

 

The idea is whenever you want to make art, (or do anything for that matter) but you feel stuck, start from wherever you are at that moment. If you’re feeling frustrated, or bored, or insecure. That’s where you create from. That is what you need to express because that is where you are. If you deny where you are/what you are feeling in the moment, it won’t go away. It will linger in your subconscious and get in the way of whatever you’re trying to do. 

Another way to see this idea comes from a phrase I learned during my two year study of the Meisner technique, Joe and Phil, our teachers, had put a large banner in our acting studio which read:


THAT WHICH HINDERS YOUR TASK IS YOUR TASK

Meisner was all about the truth of the moment. When the moment is gone, you discover and react to a new emotional truth. It is really a practice in staying present, especially emotionally present. When I was studying counseling psychology and worked as a therapist, my Meisner training was very useful. The basic technique we learned, which is the underlying technique of all his teachings is called “the repetition technique.” Two actors go up on stage, each of them sits in a chair facing the other one.  A and B. A makes a truthful statement about something s/he notices about B. B repeats the statement, but from his/her point of view. EG: A: “You’re smiling.” B: “I’m smiling. A: “You’re smiling.  B: “Yes, I’m smiling. A: “You’re smiling,” (starts to laugh). B: (starts to laugh) “You’re laughing!” A: “Yes, I’m laughing!” They both laugh. Then a new moment begins. Now it does not sound interesting if you just read the transcript, but to watch the actors’ behavior change in response to one another is intoxicating. The thing is, they’re not being actors. They are being themselves. The experience of doing the repetition technique was also intoxicating. Revealing and expressing your true emotions as they continuously unfold but with out analysis and story. When watching others, I got better and better at knowing when the actor was being congruent. That was our teacher’s job-- to make sure the actors responded to the present moment, and didn’t hold onto what had already happened. It’s amazing how quickly we change emotionally, if we are really attuned to another human being.  Being a therapist is very similar to this, the therapist attunes his/herself to his/her client, and stays present with the client, no matter what emotional journey the client goes on. The goal is not to judge, but to stay connected, and listen. I have taught this technique with different people who were not actors. They boldly jumped tried it, and instantly came alive from the experience. I also showed this technique to my parents. After just a few minutes of repetition, I had never seen them so giddy. 

I started from where I was, which was emptiness, went to a few random notes, and ended up remembering my acting training.

I’ll end with something I thought about today:

Through the process of this project, I am starting to believe that consciousness might be one of the key underlying elements of happiness. If you are conscious then you are able to know what you need, and take care of yourself. If you are able to take care of yourself, then you can see the world from kinder, clearer eyes, and therefore do what is right for others. Something to think about.

 

Zoë DearbornCreativity, ArtComment