Sabbatical: Moving Beyond Labels
When I first realized I was meant to take a sabbatical from my music career, it was a major identity shake-up. I was initially filled with fear of letting go of what i had built with my music career. Thoughts like "I will lose my momentum" or "I won't be relevant" ran through my mind like an irritating virus that was gobbling up all of the space of thought. Then, as days passed, a measure of relief began to sweep over me, as i began to challenge the thought of who I think I am and who I had allowed myself to become, a thought form of "I am a musician".
I had thought I was placing myself among the greats of our world, by adding myself to a sphere of human experience that I had for so long looked up too, but what I didn't realize at the time was, I had limited myself to a label, and let the dictations and belief systems around that label begin to control my decisions and actions.
What is funny about this realization is that before I began to label myself as a musician, I never thought I was a musician. I was just a lover of music whom, by way of synchronicity, fell into the groove of the Great Music. It was as if, after years of being immersed in the experience of music, everything from Stevie Wonder to Dinosaur Jr., I became saturated with it and it began to overflow through me. I had been surrounded by music my whole life. I listened to everything, even if I didn't like it, I learned from it. I began at an early age mimicking sounds of the world, both natural and industrial, fictional and real-life characters. Following different bands around I would continue the concert vocally as I left the venue, sometimes generating a crowd of my own. But this wasn't anything more of an extension of this great experience I felt blessed to be a part of. I didn't see that as me being anything other than human. There was a point where friends of mine were egging me on to make music though, and this outside reflection I am forever grateful for, as it pushed me beyond my comfort zone and into that which I was most passionate about... sharing music with the world.
With all forms, there is a birth and a death, and so the official form of my labeling myself a musician didn't solidify itself in my identity until I went to study with Bobby McFerrin at the Omega Institute in 2005, alongside 6 members of the Voicestra, Bobby's improv vocal band and Circlesongs troupe. It was a 5 day master class with 150 vocalists of all skill levels. I came to this class after 3 years of performing live improv vocal instrumentals at open mics, small clubs and tweener sets. What I found was that all of the students at the class for the most part considered themselves "musicians" and I believe my ego wanted in on the action. It rubbed off on me. This wasn't necessarily a bad thing, as it opened doorways within myself, gave me a renewed confidence, however as with all forms, they must dissolve and give birth to new forms.
Here I am in this moment, 7 1/2 months into my sabbatical and I have gone through a process of shedding identities, shedding labels, shedding my limitations, to reveal who I truly am. The transition from "I am a musician" back to "I AM". The "isness" that came before my "business". The more I shed and witness the layers as they rise and fall around me and within me, in my world and in my thoughts, it all seems so mystical and surreal. There is this deep presence that pervades all things, that is deeper than any individual thing, that is the space within which all things exist and evolve. To begin to know that space, and no longer separate oneself from this space, has been the deeper purpose for my sabbatical. It is my intention to sit deep within this space and reacquaint myself with itself, the OneLife.
Someone asked me the other day, "so when are you coming back to performing again". I laughed in joy and wonder at the question that had no answer. I dwelled in the marvel of the no answer, the mystery of this moment and an inquiry emerged from within. What does this moment want with me? What does Life want from me? I guess the answer is, once I know, everyone will.
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