‘So what music are you listening to these days?’ I asked my friend Vijay over a phone call.’
‘Ah, I must share this artist’s music with you. His playing is absolutely mesmerising. It is a wedlock of poetic expression with reckless abandon. He plays as if he doesn’t care who is listening or not listening for that matter. He just does his thing. I wonder how long it would have taken him to have that state of being.’
‘Sounds fascinating ! Do share his music with me !’
‘I will, when we hang up.’
And we went on with our friendly, fruitful conversation.
The way Vijay described the musician’s state of being made an impression on me.
I remembered a phrase a dance teacher used to say when people were shy to sway. He would say,
‘Dance as if nobody is watching.’
While that helped people for a while, of course their conscious state of mind came back to them in no time.
But when kids dance, they know the whole world around them is watching. Their expression spouts out in bountiful measure nevertheless.
They don’t dance as if nobody is watching !
Maybe the way to dance best is to dance with a subtle awareness. An awareness that people might be watching. Or not.
Consciousness is such a gift. It should never be stifled by being ‘conscious’!
As a musician, I have also felt this state of being ‘conscious’ while playing. It happens even to the best of us.
We all fall in that trap of trying to be ‘good enough’ as someone. That someone could be your favourite artist, a contemporary or your own mentor.
But in reality we can only be as good as our best selves. We can never be as good as someone outside our own being.
We can only push further and reach the heights we are capable of. The moment we stop having an external benchmark, a sense of emancipation will dawn on us.
While you should always strive to learn from everyone,
from a master to a novice,
The goal should always be to reach your best possible expression,
Your truest artistic splendor.
And it is best achieved by not striving to ‘be like someone.’
Surprisingly, it is not even achieved by striving ‘to be the best version of yourself.’
The most natural way to progress is just by ‘being’.
It might sound psuedo-spiritual.
And I must admit that it is a difficult state of being to win back.
But we had that state of being as kids.
I am not talking about mastery. Kids are not masters at an artform per se.
I am talking about that subtle awareness.
And the state of just ‘being’,
and expressing until you’re spent for the moment, for the day.
We all had that state of being.
We just have to unlearn.
Unlearn the habit of self-doubt, comparison, and the state of being ‘conscious’.
Now that I wonder about my friend’s question of,
‘I wonder how long it would have taken him to have that state of being’,
I think that the artist preserved the childlike ‘being’ he had as a kid.
Maybe he has always had that state of being.
Like we all did once upon a time.
And we can all strive for that state of being.
In the interest of our best artistic expression.
In the journey of being the best human we can be.
Sometimes the fastest way to learn,
Is to Unlearn.