I just got in from spending the day in the woods where I collected field recordings of birds, trees, ferns, the wind, insects and my drum for an audio project I'm producing through the Centre for Art Tapes Media Arts Scholarship Program. I had a great time out in the woods, as I always do, but it did feel strange to be recording and abstracting natural, essential things. I've done a ton of field recording in the past, and have used them in former compositions, but something has shifted, and the desire to capture the natural world is fading, replaced by a desire to deeply experience it, without barriers.
I had some incredible artistic experiences this summer, spending a lot of it on the beach drumming. I felt my most elemental, powerful self in these experiences, totally present, playful and aligned with nature's creativity and processes. I got to bring people to the ocean, to experience it and respond. When I was in the woods recording, I thought, Why not just bring people to the woods and have them listen? Bring them here, right here to this place, and have them lay their ear on the moss? Have them take their place in the landscape and allow their larger ear, their bodies, to witness, through all the senses, the incredible-ness of nature... Come here to slow down, to listen. To experience silence within, and expanding space, to disappear, dissolve completely into where we all come from, to where we all return to.
I think of Jaime Gil de Biedma words: "I believed that I wanted to be a poet, but deep down I just wanted to be a poem." I still want to write poems. I still want to create. Creative expression and play are essential to who I am. But I'm beginning to recognize the plenitude of experiences in life, the things you don't intend, and how they can become metaphor, invisible stories you carry with you through the world, sharing with others. And how they can't be simulated.
In nature, I become a poem. The way the wind moves over my body, the way the sun makes my eyes squint yet my face and chest open, the fall smell of rotting sweet earth, a fire devouring matter, yet promising renewal... the beauty and gentle force of these experiences hit me so deeply, and change me. I want to be present to their authenticity. I want to receive the unbroken songs that happen in the resonant space between. I want to become their steward.
I'm grateful that my CFAT project has been putting this shifting into focus. It is my hope that I'll find an arrival point through the learning, experimentation, unraveling and gathering. Right now I'm wading in the dark, allowing these insights to make their way through me, broadcasting intentions as seeds, waiting to see what will grow.
I leave you with words from my journal that speaks to this process. A stream, a fluttering, unbroken and true:
I am creating worlds with my heart. Worlds upon worlds upon worlds. This is why I feel no need to travel the lengths of this world, looking for paradise. Looking for an idea of love. I’ve discovered it’s right here. Layers and layers and layers of it. Inter-worlds. Deep. Small. Vibrating. I breathe and I can sense them. “Where there’s breath, there’s life.” Where there’s breath, there’s also death. Each exhale a small death. No abstraction. Just simple. These days I look at the trees, and see how they’ve grown. I see their breath. They’re record keepers, every part of them reflecting the whole of their environment. In trees, I see nature’s intelligence. And I’m humbled. For so long I’ve tried to make a statement. I’ve created art from an ego-ic space. Now I see my place. Now I’m taken back to when I was a child, in this world like a tree. A moving tree. A node on the earth. Connecting the heavens and the soil. Telling the stories. This is my place. Now art for me is worship. A collaboration. Soulful. Heartfelt. With this realization, and the experience of love all around me, I just sing songs, subtle songs, and tell stories about the life and death of all my worlds. Growing, growing, growing. Decaying. Decaying. Gone. But in another form. This energy supports. It’s there, all around. “Listen to your heart, there’s nothing else you can do.” My heart is a nebula, fragrant and thick with dust fiercely binding, releasing, attracting matters, forming stars. The source. It’s massive. It’s small. It’s everywhere. I’m so small. Yet so big. Living from this place is stellar. Love is right here.