In a society – a culture – where having an opinion is about as valuable as gold used to be, I find myself frequently without one. Or, at least, one I deem worth voicing. That’s why I write here so rarely now. It’s why I never liked Twitter, I just don’t have enough interesting thoughts often enough to warrant a social media app dedicated to voicing them.
The irony that I’m writing about how I haven’t got anything to say hasn’t escaped me. But bear with it. It might just go somewhere yet. We’ll see.
For such a long time, this blog was a way to chart my “spiritual journey” – a phrase which at various points has meant different things. Whether the blog was charting how convinced I was of my latest philosophical squeeze or of some psychological quip I’d come up with, it was always me documenting where I was at at that time. That’s still the same now. Only, the thing I noticed recently, when my wife – Rosa – and I sat down to talk about our Lifebook (a thing that my Dad has been telling us about – it’s good, I recommend it) is that there is so little that spirituality and personal development as a field of study/interest has to offer me now.
Since 2010-2012 when I began to progressively take spirituality and personal development more seriously as a field of study (up until about 3 months or so ago, fading out in intensity much like it once came on), it was about all I thought about day and night. I had breaks, of course, where I’d play video games intensely, or get really into other things. But from about 2011/2012 until December 2016, 9 times out of 10, spirituality and personal development was on my mind all day every day. So, I’ve more or less done my 10,000 hours.
As I was talking to Rosa about this area of life, I realised that there was essentially nothing that those areas – in the the way I thinking about them and approaching them before – could possibly offer me now. So, instead of writing down any visions or goals that would lead me to another new level of enlightenment or whatever, I just wrote “My personal development and spirituality are honed to a tee, to such a point where I no longer need to concern myself with the semantics or daily up-keep of that part of my life. My spiritual values are so deeply ingrained in me that they are second nature – if not first – and so I can carry on as I am without much of a second thought about how this area should be. So, I carry on like I am, undisturbed, and enjoy myself in the way that I am now, knowing that I am supported in whatever way I am and need nothing to be close to the Gods/God.”
Quite freeing that. It’s possibly the most natural next step after realising that helping people isn’t as important to me as it once was. I think for a long time I gained my sense of importance/significance in the world through being a “helper” or a “fixer” whereas now, that’s not the case. Now, my entire focus has shifted. I’m more concerned about my home-life, the relationships I have with the people I love, how my wife and I can tweak the little things in our life together to live a quality of life even better than we are experience now and more than all of that, I think I’m most concerned with beauty.
Not beauty in the arty-farty modernist way but beauty in the eye of the beholder. I am fascinated by it. I think, in a way, it’s been a vein that has run through my entire interest in psychology and spirituality, why people do what they do as well as music, film and so on. To me, the human capacity to feel and endure the most intense and agonising emotions and come out the other end of it, is incredible. I won’t say it’s the most incredible thing ever or anything like that. Like I said, in the eye of the beholder.
Odd things move me, I think. Independent films made for art rather than for money (Clouds of Sils Maria, Like Crazy), music that manages to encapsulate such a mood that I can’t help but be moved by it (Jeremy Soule’s “TES IV: Oblivion” soundtrack – specifically the explore and public tracks, Chance Thomas’s Theme for Rohan for the Lord of the Rings Online MMORPG, Bon Iver’s latest album 22 A Million).
When I watched Sils, my mind was bent in a way I hadn’t felt before. It was so odd, so captivating, so… inherently real and true to life. The same, I’d say, is true of Like Crazy. The way it was done – with only 50 odd pages of notes and no script to speak of – made it all the more heart-wrenchingly immersive. Jeremy Soule’s work on both Oblivion and Skyrim have been two collections of music that have been the soundtrack to not only those games but to my life since I first discovered Oblivion in 2009/2010. Easily my favourite composer of all time. Bon Iver’s albums – all of them – have such a special way with me and can portray a feeling that is so human and yet so transcendent of personal circumstance that it speaks to not only me but so many others across the world. That’s truly incredible. And Chance Thomas’s Theme for Rohan is the piece that really brought all of this into focus for me.
Side note: Music like the Oblivion soundtrack and Bon Iver’s 22 A Million have the capacity to evoke tears in me, and have done so. Yet, each of these particular pieces of art mentioned above (among many more) are in themselves so moving for me that I can’t do them justice with words.
It was when I heard Chance Thomas’s Theme for Rohan that I had a moment of… dawning… In a way. I listened to it multiple times on the night it hit me. I had heard it before but that night it caught me in a different way. I listened to it in my headphones several times and then played it out loud to Rosa. And it was then that it sort of hit me: “In all my life, I think, all I’ve ever wanted to do is to be able to create something as beautiful as this.” And, retrospectively, I think that that’s what I have been trying to do. In writing here, in making videos, in ranting on Facebook, in writing folk music or trance music, through teaching and through coaching and so on… In all that, I think, what I’ve been trying to do has been to create something so beautiful that I am moved to tears.
But that’s one of those things, isn’t it, that I don’t think you can do just once? Would it ever be enough to create something that beautiful just once? I mean, in a way, we would all be blessed if we were able to do that just once in a lifetime. To be able to create something so moving would be a gift, surely. But if I could do it once, I would want to keep doing it, I think. That idea has a certain pull for me. So much so that, in the time of my life I’m in at the moment – the time wherein I’m leaving off from the spiritual and personal development business and looking for a new direction to turn in – I’ve turned to music again.
After studying music at college for (almost) 3 years and after growing up around musical people, it’s always been there for me as a “thing”. Picking up guitar at the age of… 12/13 I think… meant that I was able to channel some sense of music that I had into actual musical pieces. Most of which were shite at first, but that’s learning for you. And, after I moved here to Mexico and had to leave my music stuff behind because I couldn’t afford to get it on the plane with me, I barely wrote or played save for the odd tune on Rosa’s nylon string beginners guitar. Nevertheless, I’ve recently turned my hand to writing music again. But not folk music or trance music this time.
This time, I’ve begun to write orchestral music. Music for video games first and foremost and other short film pieces online secondarily. If you want to hear any of that, you can click here to see my portfolio/site. I think, it’s a quest of sorts, for that beauty that captivates me. To be able to understand it, to be able to know how it works and how to create it.
And in all these mediums of expression that we have available to us in our modern society – Facebook, blogs and so on – I’ve been hard-pressed to find anything that has really brought me to the place that film or music has brought me to. And, personally, I feel that comes down to the fact that so much of our media today is centred around export. Export of thoughts, export of ideas, export of personality, identity and individuality. Yet, it’s all of those things within a prescribed framework. So many of us are unique within a specific prescribed framework of what is “normal”. If you’re a teenage girl with drawn-on eyebrows, outlined lips in a push-up bra mouthing off to your parents, you’re normal. But if you’re all of that but you’ve pulled off your fingernails and you draw them on as well, you’re not normal.
And we’re supposed to have opinions about that. But I think, in my “journey” through the spiritual and personal development fields, I’ve become so disillusioned with the minutia and so acclimatised to feelings that are not just superficial momentary flings of feelings like, oh look at that cute dog or look that cat didn’t make that jump, that I’ve ended up looking for more. I’ve been looking for something that fills me up, something that moves me so intimately that I am amazed by my capacity as a human to feel that. And so, I’ve turned once again to music.
But, even with the extremes of beauty – which are really not readily available on social media because most of it’s just distracting nonsense – I don’t find myself with opinions. Or at least not ones that do the subject matter justice anyway. And that’s because, despite the value of opinions being so high in our society right now, having something to say is not nearly as substantial a quality or thing as the capacity to listen. And not to just listen with your ears but to listen deeply – to really pay attention to what’s going on in a given moment.
Where I might before have now gone into a thing about how most things people do are either an act of love or a cry for help and when someone’s being a twat then they’re in pain and we should be compassionate blah blah, I won’t do that now really. (That would suffice anyway, what I put there). What I’m getting at here, I think, is that the capacity to really notice the things that do garner my attention has been my through-way to actually finding a new direction in my life at point where I actually had no idea what I wanted to be doing and quite frankly could have become distressed by that fact.
That capacity to listen deeply to the music I was hearing and the films I was watching was the thing that gave me the insight into myself necessary to turn my hand once again to music and towards (hopefully) one day reaching a point where I am able to create something so beautiful that it moves me to tears.