February 25, 2012
What the eyes hear, and what the ears see.
Above, you can enjoy part of the February view from my desk one twilight this past week. If the photo were, oh, eight or nine times as wide, it would offer a truer sense of the daily, all-encompassing vista that inspires the little black dots on my odd-looking lined pages.
But computer screens cannot mimic real life,
and my amateur camera skills can only reinforce that truth.
Maybe that’s part of why I love to compose: for all my delight in writing words and clicking photos, the most authentic way I can communicate the depths of what I perceive is through the least literal means: music. A sonic truth that, at its best, is as much of an all-encompassing vista as that which meets my eyes.
Only a heck of a lot louder, usually.
It’s heartbreakingly difficult to leave here sometimes.
And over the past few years, there have been many times.
I take flight.
I’m offered lots of opportunities to share what I do, in myriad ways. I accomplish a great deal of my work via the internet, whether it’s:
publishing and selling my scores,
participating in national meetings,
giving radio interviews via phone and email,
pdf-ing contracts and articles,
teaching my online private students,
directing musicians via MP3s and videos, for CDs and performances,
attending rehearsals of my music, live, via the magic of Skype,
being in contact with a nearly daunting number of people via email,
…and via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Grammy365, and other networks.
The web is the fantastic tool that allows me to do all of the above and more, while pajama-clad in this gorgeous remote setting. I’m the cute little spider resting on her sticky threads. When I feel them vibrate, I pounce on the promising opportunity without needing to leave home.
When I stopped composing, this gal took over while I slept.
Nonetheless, despite my hermetic preference to spend my days in ill-matched old clothes, gazing out the window while my mind does its [sometimes very mindless] thing, there will never be a digitized replacement for a personalized interaction.
At least, I really hope not.
We’re all mammals, sniffing the pheromone-laced air to get a sense of each other. Even if you could blast those pheromones through a computer screen, you couldn’t provide the exterior context in which they’re experienced.
At least, I really hope not.
Thus, I often find myself poking around in my closet for some better matching clothes, and hopping on assorted modes of transport, to transport my world to someone else’s.
One of the laws of physics I’ve learned: The more I do, the more that’s generated to be done.
And if it can’t be done online, the happy rewards of all this “doing” usually take place in large cities or on university campuses, teeming with actual, non-digitized humans. This requires matching clothes. Or at the very least, socks.
Over the span of forty five years, I lived [what I really hope is a little less than the first half of] my life in two enormous cities, New York and Los Angeles. Their infrastructures and rhythms are defined by the needs of people. People whose clothes are often nicely coordinated.
By contrast, San Juan Island is mostly defined by the needs and rhythms of wildlife. Its infrastructure is almost entirely that which nature built long before people with matching socks ever showed up to try to
ruin appreciate it all. The five years I’ve lived here so far have been nothing short of exquisite; I do unusually well in these surroundings. As gregarious as I am when I’m around other folks for short periods, I actually prefer the isolation of a floating rock that’s nearly dangling off the grid. Not to mention preferring the comfort of wearing my worn jeans, dusty boots, and quite possibly unmatched socks.
For ten months of the year, I fling myself around on planes as seldom as once a month and as often as twice a week. As my music career has grown, so has the number of frequent flyer miles on my monthly airline statement. It’s been at least three years since I’ve spent more than 19 days in a row at home. Yes, I actually counted (thus adding to the already remarkably long list of Odd Things Composers Do When They Do Not Feel Like Composing). The giddy exception to all this flitting and flying is summertime, when the equation is reversed and it’s everyone else who visits me, and I get to stay put. Because driving friends around in circles while we ooh and ahh at geolo-gee-whiz and Bald e-gads and orca-smic sightings in the water is just so much damn fun.
As I head out the door to catch yet another ferry or puddle jumper plane, I usually quiz myself, “now, exactly why am I leaving again?”. I then answer my question (this kind of solo conversation may be deemed the first warning sign of mental illness, but so be it), and I quickly remember the wonderful things I’m off to do in another place, with terrific people. It’s always been worthwhile to briefly pull myself from this paradise… as long as I know that it’s this paradise to which I get to return.
The Universe might be laughing. But while it politely turns its back to guffaw at me and my funny little bifurcated life, I do my best to create balance, and to love, smile, and ultimately, communicate.