It's been a busy month, largely spent arranging more music for a string quartet. Initially, I tried to score all of the music digitally using Sibelius 6, a software program designed to facilitate instrument arrangement. But after many failed attempts, I've returned to scoring by hand, spending late nights pouring over staff paper a la Vivaldi or Schubert. Even though it takes a long time, it's been a great process, like working on a giant math equation for weeks. Oddly gratifying. What I've come to realize is how analytical and calm this process has made me. Almost unemotional. From that quietude and introspection, along with the events of this day, I've been able to reflect on the relationship, or lack of relationship, between anger and creativity.
Every person employs creativity differently. Some use it to sell goods. Others use it to come up with technology, or maybe to make a meal. It seems to me that the creative spirit exists within everybody in some capacity. I happen to use it to make music, but I think this lesson that I've learned applies to most people. The inspiration that fuels us to "make" things takes many forms. My creativity is usually fueled by good stories, love, excitement, fear, and sadness; these emotions compel me to try to build something from them. But I've observed in both myself and others that when anger surfaces, creativity is lost. And that makes perfect sense, really. Creativity constructs, and anger destructs. They are each other's antithesis. Spiderman and the Green Goblin, if you will.
It's hard not to get angry, especially when somebody "does us wrong." Then, it feels empowering and almost justifiable to be angry. I was just in that place today, being unjustly yelled at by a venue owner in my hometown of Rockford, Illinois. This afternoon when I came home and sat down at the piano, all I could do was think about how angry I was at being disrespected by the owner. I had lost the peace of mind that I had for weeks while working on my string arrangements. I didn't want to "make" anything because in order to make something, I need to be in the present, physically connecting with my instrument. But anger had seized me, and anger does not operate from the present. It draws on the past and invades the present until our current reality is so skewed that we don't even see straight. Trying to create from that point for me is impossible. Anger trumps everything.
So how did I lose my anger and return to writing music and blogging tonight? Well, I employed the Achilles Heel of anger, its one weakness in an otherwise invulnerable emotion: laughter. Anger is a very sincere emotion, and it hates mocking and frivolity. For my fellow creators out there, if you find anger battling with your creativity, find a way to laugh at it, or at least laugh at something. Anger can't hold up to your amusement. Figure out what makes you laugh no matter what, and do that. Your creativity will resurface, and you'll be free to "make" once more.
Tonight, I'm listening to Vince Guaraldi for inspiration. Vince's jazz piano reminds me of a glass of champagne. It fizzes and pops and implies celebration. It makes us giddy and lightheaded and happy. Give him a listen if you need a positive jolt or a pick-me-up.