Since releasing my debut EP, I’ve gotten the question “What is your songwriting process?” more times than I could count. Artists of all kinds continually get this question, giving a variety of some answer in return. To me, answering the question always feels like appeasement. I tell them that I don’t know. I could give in a little by giving answers such as: I wrote this part first; it started with this lyric and I built off that. And this is true, most of my music stems from lyrics that transform into sound, and then something of its own color. But the very truth of it is that each song starts off as a line, a poetic one at that, that appears in my head, completely free with my stream of thought. It sticks out to me as something potent, something to be written down. And so, I do. Yes, I mean I write down every one; my notes app is abused. Sometimes it’s just a phrase, or 4 lines together. Sometimes I start with one thought and an entire poem pours out of it. But the basics are there, it just comes to me. This isn’t the answer most inquiring search for, but this is the truth. Our creativity is not our own, but flowing from a deep well that we all share access to, i.e. “The Collective Conscious”. This idea, that has slowly grown in me with time, has shed light on the separation between my mind and spirit, my emotions and soul. Within the separation I’ve found a oneness, where I can see my thoughts, emotions, and creative pulses, flow through me, free of judgement from my thinking mind. I’ve learned to listen to myself, to find the bridge. In doing this, I have opened the floodgates of creativity within my own being.
There is a belief that the artistically inclined suffer more as humans. They don’t, first and foremost, the suffering is just on the forefront of their existence. Dreams to be musicians, painters, filmmakers and what have you, lend themselves to extreme emotional vulnerability- and truth- that eventually becomes consumable. It is not the vulnerability that makes an artist, it’s the desire to act on it. Acting out on artistic drives and impulses forces us to face and understand our deepest hurts. In some ways I do believe that everyone is an artist. We all have creativity, be it the way we dress or the music we sing along to. This goes back to my original thought that so-called artists do not suffer more than anyone else.
Suffering is deeply apart of the human experience, and one of the biggest instigators towards finding joy, and finding ourselves. Artists tend to create in times of deep suffering, I know for myself this to be true. It’s not because suffering is creative energy, but because suffering creates a loss of self, if you let it. Once I was able to understand that my suffering was not my own (not my true soul’s suffering) I was able to detach myself from it and view it as a keen observer. As you lose this part of yourself (the imagined self of sense) the ego starts to weaken and subconscious thoughts flow through. This is where your soul lies. This is where the creativity lies. In listening to those subconscious, abstract, and sometimes, violent thoughts, is where we find our true inner voice, the voice that writes the music, free of judgement and free of lack.
There’s just as much beauty in my suffering as there is beauty in my joy. Instead of rejecting these thoughts, or any thought for that matter, I have been able to use it as fuel for creative output. The more I have been able to listen to my mind, free of judgement, the more creativity has seemed to flow through me with ease, and through anything. The suffering in my mind isn’t my sole, creativity energy. I rid this part of myself, and replaced it with the act of paying attention to the inner world.
No matter how you overcome suffering, more will always come to meet you. You will never live a wave-less life, and to live without waves is to not live at all. My friend, and teacher in many ways, True Swayne told me this. Suffering is not creative fuel, but the life fuel. How can I overcome this? How can I live past this?
Welcome suffering as you welcome joy and love. To be afraid of suffering is to be afraid of living.
tried not to steal,
I can’t say for certain that I haven’t.
but I’ve come to find,
the only thing stolen in this life,
is the passing of time.
when time is only measurable in how I’ve changed
I could curse out the years of stagnation.
but here I am now, no longer a damnation.
I’m not to be disgraced,
for grace is what I can give.
I’d go looking into the blue,
the running and the rapids,
there’s a constant river running through
to always guide me back to you.
this is a love song,
cause love’s all there is.
and I’m glad to have found it,
I’m glad to be here.
Sehara, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons