Waiting like a cannonball

My wife and I are currently in a massive transition period. While I’m not quite ready to spill the details, we are facing the reality of pretty massive life change. The hardest part isn’t even the situation itself. For us, the hardest part is patience. The hardest part is waiting.
Waiting like a cannonball.

Cannon
Cannon by palestrina55, on Flickr

My wife and were talking about life and she had this brilliant illustration. So credit for this post goes to her (and my Dad for making a cannon).

If your cannon is ready to fire, there is a long wick or fuse to light. The lighting of the fuse sends flame down the length of the fuse, eventually (visually) ending at the outside surface of the cannon, then the waiting begins. This is the nerve-wracking part, you wait as the final portion of the fuse is burned up inside the barrel. When will it fire?

There is an indeterminate period that seems like an eternity where you cannot see the inner workings and thus you begin to worry. Worry the massive, terrible explosion or worry the apparent disappointing lack of combustion. Either outcome is ok, it is just the not knowing that is agonizing.

Life isn’t an open book. There is no map. Often, we are in a position to simply wait. So right now that is how you will find us,
Waiting like a cannonball.

How do you deal with transition in your life? Leave a comment and we’ll learn together.

William Stonewall Monroe

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Disconnected, no really.

Somedays I sit in front of the white blank precipice of creation and wonder what will come next, all the while creating the next. Having the next created for me. Unknowingly, rocks have disturbed the surface, undulating, disturbing the dark recesses that would stay quiet if left to their own devices, stirring the lethargic soul.

New Oscilloscope
New Oscilloscope by mightyohm, on Flickr

Detached is an illusion, a pride. Disconnected, a falsehood. Influenced is the always reality. It is not a question of will there be influences. It is a question of influenced by whom.

There is no true isolation. Tenuous connections like a spider’s web or connections carried out by fairies (sometimes called the internet). Forever connections solidified by wedding rings, by blood, by Golden Gate Bridge, 36 3/8″ steel cables.

I am a smith, hammering steel to bend to my will, a sculptor, chiseling away all that is not my art.

Yet.

I am a hammer, held in the hands of a greater smith, a chisel, held in the hands of a greater sculptor.

Yet.

I am metal, yielding to a shape I would not have sought. I am stone, moving into shapes that I would have fought.

William Stonewall Monroe

Band Leaders: Are your rehearsals a joy or a sorrow?

The ice in your water has long since melted, your fingers are numb, and for the life of you, you can’t remember why you come to these things. Rehearsals (and here I am referring specifically to band rehearsals) ought to be a joy, reigniting your passion for your art while you hone your skills. Often, however, rehearsals bring a bunch of passionate, talented musicians together and everyone practices long hours together, gets grumpy, and sometimes very little feels like it has been accomplished. If it is your rehearsal (or any meeting for that matter), how do you promote joy? I’ll share 2 practical ideas that I have found to be valuable, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Luther Orchestra
Luther Orchestra by Luther College Photos, on Flickr

1. Remember the passion
Why are you even in this band/organization? If it is a musical group, there for sure can be varying reasons. For me? I play music to express those emotions that are hard to get at, those bottom of the honey jar emotions. I play music to get in touch with those inexpressible parts of life that are so beautiful that they hurt.

Practically, I have sometimes started rehearsals asking group members to share some music that has been resonating with them. The whole group listens to the songs and yes, it chews up rehearsal time. It reminds everyone involved why we are even here. Starting a rehearsal with out first having a good focus on the passion that brought everyone together in the first place is like getting out random ingredients to cook without first remembering why you were in the kitchen.

2. Stick to the time
Few band leaders I have ever known do this. Yes, there are some days that you will need to go over time. Let that be the exception and not the rule. By starting on time and ending on time, you are showing respect for your bandmates. It is much easier to be excited about showing up for a rehearsal if you know that your time will not be taken for granted. A band hungry for more, excited about what they are playing is infectious. I’ll take a joy-filled, excited band that has some rhythm issues over a sonically tight, infighting grumpy band any day.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on leading joy filled rehearsals (or meetings). Leave a comment and let me know, How do you run your rehearsals?

William Stonewall Monroe

The Beauty Of A Fall Day

The leaves haven’t yet begun to turn. The air has, though. Brisk, as the clouds cover the sky in the deep, day shortening way that clouds do in the fall, in the winter. Tight little sprinkles, never quite reaching a downpour, never quite leave the air dry.

Autumn in Denali
Some rights reserved by blmiers2

The quiet, almost whispered hints and notes of the effervescent joy that leaps forth from life begin to take.

Hold.

Patience.

Breathe.

Even though the path is clear, the unfortunate reality is that the path is seen as if from the top of a mountain. Clear, direct, and still a few days journey before it is a reality. So our lives begin to turn, from vibrant greens, to brilliant, golden reds.

The expectation is daunting, inescapable, and exhilarating. There is no path but forward. Only one reason is necessary, more than one and you may be trying to convince yourself. Even those not flying south for the winter see geography change. Terrain living and hibernating as the flora lives and hibernates.

In this turning we are made, churned, sifted, fortified, hopefully ending more beautiful than when we began our journey. Hopefully loving well and living to the full with the taste of cider fresh on our tongues. We move from beautiful to practical, from sunflowers to sunflower seeds.

Though I suppose this is simply a transferred beauty. The beauty of a changed identity, a changed purpose. We are never truly discarded, and those who might try only have the control we give them. Fall is a transition, humanity is a transition. Indeed, seasons are called such because they only last for a time.

Yet we are always in a season, we can never escape seasons. Nor would we want to, for it is only through seasons that we reach ripeness, the beauty of wisdom. Fruit is most beautiful when it’s in season. I refuse to believe in the “good old days,” and thereby infer my ripeness has come and gone and now I am rotten.

As fall begins, new life is prepared by the passing of the old. I am grown as I let go of the dust I have been scared to lose, and grapple with the hopes I am scared to choose.William Stonewall Monroe

Stats are driving me insane, or Longterm vision

Stats are driving me insane. I confess, I have been obsessing over my readership/facebook likes/klout stats like they are experience points in (insert nerdy role playing game here). It is almost as bad as that one time I got into Facebook games, except there I have learned my lesson (read, I will not reply to your FarmVille request). In an effort to develop longterm vision (where am I going in 5 years, not 5 minutes) I need to stop.

insAne
Attribution, Noncommercial Some rights reserved by thewhitestdogalive

The key problem? Stats defeat great art. By focusing on trying to get more page views or unique visitors or even real person approval, I deny my artistic calling. I want to connect with you. I want to have a conversation, and face it, how annoying would it be to converse with someone asking you every twenty seconds, “Is this a good conversation? Do you like it? Are you sharing my insights with your friends?” To answer my own question, really annoying. My online presence is for getting out my content, not for tickling the fancy of the masses, masses are fickle. Those benefitting from my content will automatically help me find and define my tribe.

Building anything of consequence takes time. Just ask Jesus, he spent 30 years of his life in relative obscurity before changing the world in three short years. Even from a purely logical point of view, it doesn’t make sense to check stats more than once a day. Most stats don’t fully update until at least one day has passed. In some cases, stats are averaged over a weekly basis (like for most Facebook page stats). Even if your stats are real-time with a uppercase R and T, there is too much noise to judge any trends. By looking at weeks and months rather than hours and days, I feel like I get a better picture of where I am coming from, and indeed, if I am making any headway towards consistently promoting my content.

Patience, it takes patience.

I am going to not allow myself to look at stats but once a week, in an effort to move to engage my mind with more longterm vision (and avoid insanity). I’m going to focus more on my art, and less on the response to that art. In the end, I wasn’t making the art for the response anyway.

What could you ignore or cut out that would help you focus more?

William Stonewall Monroe

PS: As you may have noticed, this post is on a monday, not the usual friday. I am playing around a bit with the time that I write, in an effort to get the best content and make sure you, my lovely readers can see it. As such I’ll most likely break out blog posts to twice a week now, one more focused on thoughtful thoughts, and the other containing the weekly song.