They say that when all falls silent one is better able to hear their own voice. That resonated with me the past weeks. It’s terrible what’s happening in the world, but it also has good and interesting sides. To take a moment to ask ourselves what’s really important to us: if we really need all the distractions all the time: many trips a year, big festivals, dinner outings, dating craziness or if we can find happiness in the environment of our own families and neighbourhoods. Think about what we really appreciate in our lives. Sit still and go back to the essence of things. Are we only waiting for this episode to pass or are we willing to start living differently after this?
Which jobs are really important? Do some jobs need adjustment? When it comes to musicians for example living room concerts seem to be very much valued now as simple entertainment. They are very practical and the oldest forms of entertainment and storytelling. It gave me a fuzzy feeling to see bigger artists play simple gigs from their livingrooms, struggling with technique. When all the glamour falls away we’re all some form of campfire artists in the end. And why do we actually need more than that?
I started broadcasting daily #lockdownsessions in studio on YouTube over the past 10 days. It’s quite a bit of editing work since it’s not live, but I (also!) stumble upon technical difficulties to do it livestream in studio quality, so I might go for live streaming acoustic sessions instead in the next while and make the studio work a less regular thing…
To me making music brings me closer to the feelings and energies around us. While playing live I usually tune in on what the audience wants to hear, what the energy is like in a hall, and I still try to do the same online, looking at the requests that come in and reactions to songs. That way even now it’s pretty intense work. One thing that I noticed is that people seem to value old songs, songs with a history more than newer ones. They carry powerful memories and have helped people in the past so they can still help us these days.
I’m learning lots of new songs this way as people can send in any request they like. One of the songs that I really felt while playing it for the first time is this one: Close to it All by 60’s Woodstock singer Melanie Safka. If we get back close to the essence of things we can’t fall so deeply, and our society can’t either, so maybe that’s something we should be aiming for: to get back close to it all….
Talking about the disastrous effects of our Western lifestyle, our eating, shopping and holiday habits on the planet is never fun. People don’t like to be made felt bad about their choices. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was a student but for same reason I’m certainly not one of those veggies who tells you off about the ‘dead animal on your plate’ in the middle of a restaurant. But by now we’ve reached a point with climate and environmental issues that I’m wondering if maybe we should. Is it really OK when friends announce their fifth mini hols a year by plane? And is it OK to just reply asking if they had a good time and what the weather was like?
I remember earning a lot of money each month as a lawyer and I sometimes I hadn’t got a clue how to spend it. I think many fulltime workers who go clothes shopping on a Saturday often don’t. It seems more of a cultural habit. Sometimes I randomly bought shoes, and then I just threw them in some closet if I didn’t want to wear them, and went to buy a new pair I didn’t really need. It gave me a very empty feeling.
Sometime after quitting this job I left to Ireland with my guitar and ended up on a farm in the wild West. My main concerns were to light the fire in the mornings, to collect drinking water from a well in the mountains (rural area’s often still don’t have access to public water schemes), to do repairs after power cuts and some more very basic life tasks, like baking fresh bread in the morning. Strangely this largely improved my mood and feeling of happiness about life in general. It felt like for the first time in my life – in my twenties – I lived and worked for what really matters, staying alive, keeping warm and being as self sufficient as possible doing so and spend my little savings on local activities that felt like “really earned”.
Of course I wouldn’t want to project my own experience on society in general. But could I assume that our general Western lifestyle has drifted so far off from a basic self sufficient experience, that knowing ‘what really counts in life’ is just as hard a notion to grasp as knowing ‘what we are doing wrong’ ? Is that why it’s so hard to admit that maybe that 5th mini break away or buying that car to bring the kids to school wasn’t really necessary? Because we really don’t feel anymore what is truly valuable? Because our lives are built around an existence in which we study hard to earn digital abstract credits to buy stuff from, striving for more and more, overlooking if we do really add the same amount of value in return with our work? What is an experience really “earned”? It would be good to leave the notion of money out of this equation now when we judge our own behaviour and what we really deserve….
See you on Friday for the Climate Strike in The Hague!