“Perhaps you are unaware of the fact that you are the customized expression of a loving God. He has wired you through some genetic mechanism we do not yet understand. You have been endowed with a unique mix of competencies and the drive to use them in pursuit of some outcome of unrivalled personal importance. Your life has meaning built into it. Effectively you have an exciting, challenging, achievable destiny if you will, but discover and embrace who you are destined to be.” ~ Arthur F. Miller
We all like to believe that we are autonomous beings, that our personalities belong to us and we are separate in mind and spirit from behaviors of others and their influence upon us. But in real time we live under the influence of everything and everyone around us. Dad always emphasized and drummed into us to “be your own person don’t follow others mindlessly, your purpose in life is unique to you and your friends may want to play, but follow your heart, it is the best navigator to following your North Star. And at the time, I really didn’t get what he meant by it.
“Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn. They teach you there’s a boundary line to music. But, man, there’s no boundary line to art.” ~ Charlie Parker
I was raised believing that in order to survive I had to live in disguise. When I was very young, the sanctity of my room is where I had hopes, dreams, values and aspirations. When I left my room I had to leave them behind like my books and other treasures tucked away on a shelf nestled in the opposite corner of my bedroom. I believe with all of my heart Dad loved me, but I caved and bartered my own thoughts and feeling when he told me what I was supposed to want. I sacrificed what I really wanted because Dad tells me that being a doctor is where it’s at. The early part of my journey amidst the jazz world I would hole up in my room discovering and accepting fully the gifts and talents that God gave me. I would let go of my family “persona” to free my imagination tapping into my personal sense of purpose and who I really was. Early mornings I would lie in bed hearing the music climb the stairs, it had a purpose, it had an intent – it was harmonic, it had a rhythm that grabbed my heart and rearrange the beats to prepare me to go to my desk open my curtains and let the burst of the morning gently touch my face. Jazz was transformative.
I was paralyzed by the feeling of losing my father if I chose to follow my star. I needed for him to tell me things would be okay. That he would help me, encourage me, teach me the way things are in the world I was living in. How did he do it? Every time I tried to step out of the role he was creating for me, he would resist. So I would withdraw and try to convince myself that he knows what’s best for me. I was so conflicted when he would teach me how to sight sing music, take me to his rehearsals and ask what instrument I wanted to learn how to play. There were definitely rules of conduct and engagement with others. There were two distinct behaviors, one associated with our home and private life and the one associated with our public life. I spent most of the time in my room. There the only rule was to be myself.
Our outer selves are in constant flux. Folks come into our lives and go. We move from place to place. We are creating and establishing in every living moment. When taking a peek at our inner selves it always remains the same. Our awareness is what changes because we are in touch with our true self. It was inheriting breast cancer that caused me to embark on this journey. That was the biggest game changer with respect to finding and identifying how jazz is part of my true nature. When I think about all of the setbacks or side effects that are related to cancer I play dad’s album or listen to Eric Dolphy’s Out to Lunch or Coltrane or Miles or Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra I am reminded of being in my room laying on my bed as a child. Now if I am not in balance with my true self, I stop, crank up the sounds, put on the cool shades and dance around building up the energy to write because I am re-aligned and grateful for the smallest things, like the sun, moon stars, and of course, the life thing. Some folks say that we were not born with an instruction manual. Parents are guiding us, but, now I know I am going to set sail to follow my North Star.
Somehow, I made it through the tumultuous 60’s cultural and civil rights revolutions. I believed that suffered greatly from it, emotionally and physically which made it conducive for Cancer to enter and uproot my life. Worst of all, i lost my rents. For all intents and purposes, those years and awful experiences could have irreparably broken me. However, the jazz lessons I learned healed and transformed me guiding me to the other side a better person for it all. Rather than becoming a broken, bitter and mistrustful person, I found a compassion and tenderness within me I never knew existed. I found optimism and joy in the little things, the ability to laugh and find humor in just about anything. And through that, I also discovered the will and ability to start my life over, to go back to school and learn a new vocation helping others find comfort from their own woes.
The secret habits of Jazz living allows us to coexist with folks around us and the situations in which we find ourselves immersed, we have the power to choose a mutually beneficial and filled with compassion and understanding of one another. The true blessing is that we can take our adversities, learn from them, and transform them to effect a positive outcome not just for ourselves, but for those around us. So let’s get to it, pack your bags, get your shades on ‘cause we are gonna set sail and discover that jazz is transformative in everyday life. It’s all about awareness…How about you, do you remember a turning point in your life? Peace out! JBC 😎
Copyright 2011-2014 by Jannat Marie/Jazzybeatchick. All rights Reserved.
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