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Monday, May 20, 2013

The Art of detachment

Real stuff happens in and around our lives. But it’s how we respond to it that makes the difference; whether I attach to it or detach from it.
- gilli moon
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I have painted my first canvas in over a year. This is a major breakthrough. The flow has returned. Strange that I say this? No. It’s actually quite a meaningful point I want to make.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a remarkably busy year. Busy, busy, busy. Productive, busy, creative, busy. Get the picture? Busy.
I’ve conquered many mountains, and been victorious in my endeavors. It’s been “business as usual” and I’ve written songs, performed songs, recorded songs and done many other things in between. But have I also had quiet time to just sit, reflect and ponder the universe? Not much. When I can do that, my favorite way is to pour a glass of merlot (I can only average one glass of wine in a blue moon), and with a white, blank canvas inviting me, imploring me… I splash a multitude of colors on it and my mind is able to drift into another world.

Letting go of the world
The world in which we live in constantly demands our attention. It’s like a spoiled child insisting on having his say, and we are forced to succumb to it, through the television, the radio, traffic, people, and the Internet: The big “I”. We are consumed by the Internet on our computers, on our cell phones. We may as well connect an intravenous tube straight into our brain so we can download music, e-mails and every bit of spam the world wants to throw at us.
But I am as much the culprit as the world is. I hanker for attention; I hunger for a new stage to express myself. I am an Artist of course. This is part of me. The music industry and all that it entails, the good, the bad… has also been part of me. I’ve been living it, feeling it, dreaming it all my life. It’s been my major ambition, to perform, to entertain, to star (from the smallest to the largest stages, I’ve wanted it all.) I don’t think that’s bad. It just is… innate: the desire to be heard, to communicate to the world, and to have one’s music enjoyed; and out of all that, maybe create some change on this planet. Who knows?
But there is a time to turn it all off, even just for a moment. It is really important to take time out to just “be”. I have a song called “Be” on my album, “the stillness”, that goes like this:
I wanna swim in the sun
I wanna dance in the rain
I wanna feel our hearts beating the same
I wanna be with you….
I am ready this time around, to just… be….

Are you ready to just “be”? Are you able to take a moment and listen to your heart beat, or feel the breath you breathe in and out? Do you know how to stop and take a break? Go for a walk, a swim, a horse ride? Make sure that in the doingness of your lives, you can ‘undo’ even for a moment, but regularly, to just be… still. It’s in this stillness, this emptiness that dreams percolate like a good stew or spaghetti sauce. Sometimes the ingredients aren’t the ones YOU create with all your might. Often the magic happens in your life when you’re not looking. So stop watching the kettle boil, and go out and play. (Heck, do it right now. Take a moment away from this book for 10 minutes and go watch the Sun, rain or whatever weather outside.)
10 minutes. Count it.

Ok, how did that feel?

Letting go of what you’re supposed to feel…
Forever in my dreams, I’ve been restless… until today. I am still. Even as I carry out the motions of everyday living, being and doing, I am still. Meaning, I am calm and present, and happy with where I am. I can look back and say, “Hey, It’s been OK. I’ve had a great year. I am in a good place.”  I couldn’t say this before. I was too restless, always wanting more, always being my own self critique and saying, “Well, it was an OK year, but next year will be better, as long as I do this, this and this.” Now, however, I can look back in retrospect and appreciate the journey I’ve traveled, and be happy with where I am at this point in time.
I can also see what lies ahead better. It was always a fog, looking ahead. Now I feel the peace, and feel the abundance. I am amazed at how calm I am able to accept my own fortitude and prosperity.
This is not something one would normally go around exploiting, one’s own sense of abundance. They might think you’re up yourself, without looking at the major concerns of the world. I mean, how can you feel so abundant, when there are all these major crises on the planet, perhaps even in your own neighborhood, in your own family?
Here lies the problem. Many people don’t allow themselves to be thankful for a certain prosperity (not necessarily monetarily) that they have, feeling guilty because others don’t have it. This is one of the problems of ambition. Sometimes we don’t realize our dreams because we don’t feel we deserve it, and it’s not so much because of our own capabilities, but by the pressure around us that we face. If we see some people living on the street, or war in Iraq, or our own family may work in dead-end jobs, sometimes that influences our own potential. We get caught up in their circumstances, their perceptions and reality.
But this is your reality. YOUR STORY. We will constantly face challenges in the world, but the most important challenge is for us as human beings to become “enlightened”. For, if every individual could do that, we wouldn’t need Amnesty International or Greenpeace, or soldiers fighting on foreign soil.  We would all be at peace with one another. In our own backyard, we would be able to achieve what we wanted, without criticism, because everyone would feel achievement for themselves.
I know, it’s a big topic, and I certainly don’t want to make this book about global change (though I’ve thought about writing a book about that). What I mean to show through this is how effective it is to truly be comfortable in your own skin, and not be so affected by dependence on the world in order to achieve personal and creative greatness.
By all means, don’t ignore what’s going on in the world. In fact, through your creativity, you can create change and healing. But it’s important to not collapse into being a victim of your circumstances.
Being a Warrior Artist in this world today means you need more tenacity than ever before. Most of it comes from your inner ability to cut away from the throng of exterior influences, and to remain connected to your inner dreams and goals: your inner voice.

Letting go of expectations
Having a certain detachment to the “business/industry” side of things helps too.
Previously, every spark of joy was defined by achievements I made in the music industry. It was like a drug. I needed to have a great gig, or produce an awesome album, and then sell a certain quota, and many other things… in order to feel fulfilled. But now I have detached myself from that notion. I am no longer beholden to my successes to make me happy. It is part of me, but it doesn’t own me.
I don’t need even my Artistry to make me happy. That’s a hard one to really fathom, as Artists are so connected to their Art, of course. But if something doesn’t occur with your Art, are you going to be disappointed, or even depressed?
There’s liberation from not being so dependent on your Art. I’ve had to let go of a lot of notions about my Artistry in order to feel joy. Otherwise I could be majorly depressed. I’ve had feelings of my Art holding me captive, and if I don’t do something with it, or if it doesn’t feed me, then I feel like I have failed my mission in life. This feeling is almost a co-dependent relationship, just like any love relationship that creates disharmony. 
Here are some examples:
vFeeling the need to write a song every day or regularly, and if not, feeling bad about it.
vFeeling the need to practice your instrument every day, and if not, feeling like you’ll lose your “touch”.
vBeating ourselves up (metaphorically speaking of course) over not doing enough in one day, whether that’s creative, like practicing, performing or writing; or business wise, like e-mailing, phone calls, or connecting with people on our huge to do list.
vHaving a certain expectation that our Artistry (music, writing or otherwise) needs to make us financially self-sufficient, i.e. earning our income solely, or at least mostly, from our Artistry. I don’t see a problem with making a living from our Art. It’s usually the goal. But to have the expectation can cause enormous psychological pressure for us in the years (and it can take years) before we start getting that.
vHaving an expectation that our gigs, every single one of them, should give us the ultimate high and that we should feel fulfilled by it and loved by our audience. Some gigs are just a means to an end or could be fulfilling to some but maybe not to you. They may feel disappointing based on your expectation (whether it was filling the room, or selling a certain amount of CDs or not making mistakes on your playing), but yet could have possibly been rewarding in a far different way and you just didn’t realize it. Maybe one person went away from that gig and years later becomes your record company exec and remembered you back then, or maybe you changed a person’s life by hearing your emotional love song. Who knows
vHaving an expectation that we have to be just as successful as other Artists we see in those glossy magazines, or even that other indie Artist you met at the conference. You are different. You are unique. Don’t even start comparing yourself.  And please don’t even start to think you’re not as talented as someone else. Firstly, talent is individual and unique (what you offer is different to what they offer), and secondly, talent is not really what got them to a level of success that you might be envious or desiring of (there are so many factors that go into commercial success: for one, who you know. Secondly, loads of money (I’m talking hundreds and hundreds of thousands), and who you know, amongst other weird things like timing, being at the right place at the right time (whatever “right” means, ‘cause it may not be “right” for you).
As far as I’m concerned, the least attachment we have to our Artistry and the music business, to success, and to OTHERS… the better. One reason is because most of what happens around us is out of our control. So why try and control it?
So I opt for detachment. Not in a bad, cut throat way. I am always conscious of the world around me. It actually feeds me for my writing, and I am a humanist. I am very aware of what’s going on in the world, and do my bit to create the miniscule of change. But on a daily basis, I cannot be caught up in it all as it will consume me. I cannot be a victim of what people may say or not say about me. I sometimes have to turn off the news. I cannot listen anymore to my own personal demands on how I should excel, do, be, achieve, perform. What is it all for, really?
Is there a reason why I have to write a song every day, or practice my piano every day?
Really. Think about it. Is it perhaps our own personal need for perfection that insists we must be a genius at everything we do? Some singers can not play for months, not even need to warm up and then walk on stage and belt their lungs out amazingly. Others need to practice, and go to lessons, and work hard on their creativity. It doesn’t matter where you fit in, in all of this. There is no judgment here. What is called for, though, is to be able to detach oneself from this personal expectation, from this insatiable need to achieve, to do, to be, to perform and the dependency on the business to feed us… and to just be able to be still while the world revolves speedily around us.
My Artistry is a choice I’ve made for expression, but it doesn’t define the complete me and I am not held hostage by it anymore. By releasing the need to be so driven, to the tokens of worldly achievement and to your own sense of excellence, you can enjoy an amazing sense of freedom.
So, today, I learn to detach and let go of all of the “stuff’, all of the to-do lists, all of my personal self-demands, and I enjoy the Art of Art making, for the sake of Art alone. I return to my painting with my glass of wine. Cheers.

Blog comment
Great stuff!
It seems that an Artist has to strive to liberate oneself from other activities that day to day life impinges on us... to be free to create.
Like the imprisonment of daily/yearly chores versus finding that elusive time to be free creatively.
You never know when you may get that chance but seeking that freedom is an earnest endeavor.
It's hard to survive and find the time when your creativity doesn't pay the rent, many established Artists have found the key to making their income from their creations but that's only from initial hard work or... luck!
Finding the balance is the key.
Gilli’s Dad.

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This blog is a chapter from Gilli Moon's book JUST GET OUT THERE, available at, Amazon and all good book stores

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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:56 AM

    Hi Gilli!! It's Rachel here...Congradulations!! There is a time for everything under the's all part of the whole.:-) We are making beautiful music and I am painting as well. Just wanted to send you some LOVE and congradulations at your new life.:-) Enjoy the moments!! Rachel