Why Do I Do This?

When I’m playing music, the frame of mind and awareness that it puts me in, “the zone,” is the closest I come to living in the Now.
“When I’m playing music, the frame of mind and awareness that it puts me in, ‘the zone,’ is the closest I come to living in the Now.”

I don’t know about you, but as summer winds down and the kids start back to school, I get introspective. While pulling charts together for an upcoming gig and tending to a few file-maintenance tasks, my half-present state of mind turned philosophical: “Why do I do this?” That is, why have a chosen to not just play music, but pursue it in the midst of all the accompanying tasks and challenges, big and small? The answer ended up addressing my thoughts on music’s relationship to humanity at large. I shared the resulting writing with a fellow musician who is struggling to find purpose in the midst of her challenges, and she found great value in it … so I thought I’d share it here in hopes you might find it worth a read as well.

First, a personal perspective. For me, creating music has always been an activity that centers me, calms the restlessness and nagging existential questions: “What is the meaning of life?” “Why am I here?” When I’m playing music, the frame of mind and awareness that it puts me in, “the zone,” is the closest I come to living in the Now.

But this doesn’t really explain why I do all of the extra work to put music out into the world for others to hear. Don’t you ever wonder why we artists choose to step out of our creative state (which, for many of us, begins with a reclusive state) to put their work out there to the public?

For me, the purpose of music is to heal. I am driven to compose, record, and perform music to contribute to a healing energy to the planet. Music is a uniting balm to soothe the wounds of separation — from each other, from ourselves, from our God or whatever creative life force we believe in. It is a bridge to span the barriers of language (even misunderstandings among speakers sharing the same native tongue), of geographic and socioeconomic boundaries, of culture. Hans Christian Anderson said, “where words fail, music speaks.” And it is a language we all seem to understand. Those of us who share no other common bond can come together because a certain artist or genre or even a single song speaks to us. These beautiful shared moments restore hope that someday, we really all can get along.

Besides uniting us, music centers us — not just the creators of music, but the listeners, or recreators of it, as well. This is also healing. When listening to music, you are paying attention to time; you are marking time in a way that pleases you (ideally). Maybe listening to music you love helps you find the Now, as it does with me as I’m playing. Maybe you get lost in the music and time stops, or maybe a song from your youth transports you back to another moment entirely; whatever it does for you, it makes the passing of time bearable, doesn’t it? There is an anonymous quote circulating on social media right now: “Art is how we decorate space; music is how we decorate time.” Frank Zappa said something similar: “Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid.” How drab and intolerable life would be without music to “decorate” it!

So in my humble way, I hope to help people experience this when they hear my music: “YES! This is how moving through space and time, at this moment, feels to me. This feels right.” And to find others who agree is to build a positive energy … In this way, music builds a sense of community, of not feeling alone, on a deep level. It puts us all in a better frame of mind, so we can all move through this modern life, with its glittering technological distractions, with less isolation, less, judgment, less fear. It connects us to a form of storytelling that humanity began using thousands of years ago to mark rites of passage with drumming and chanting, a practice that continues to this day.

To be a musicmaker is a gift, and I am honored to be among the ones called to help us all dance through the Now together, in unity. I appreciate the love and support I have received in this endeavor, and know that I will continue to create with this sense of purpose in mind. Thank you for listening, and for reading!

aa mp_sigMichelle

Hello, World!

Michelle Pollace
Michelle Pollace

Welcome to my blog, and thank you for reading my “Maiden Voyage” post. My goal is to curate and invent content that entertains you and maybe even enlightens you! :-) Jazz, the creative process, suburban farm-to-table (I’m an avid gardener), these are a few of my favorite things …

Some of you already know I actively post on my Facebook page and Twitter about famous musicians’ birthdays, as well as quotes from them that I find inspiring or amusing. I will use this blog space to further reflect on some of these pearls of wisdom, the ones that are particularly germane to my own creative process and/or philosophy.

I also like to garden. And eat. And specifically, tend to a garden of things I can eat. I am blessed with a beautiful garden featuring not only raised beds where I grow fresh herbs and seasonal vegetables, but a veritable orchard of fruit trees that provide a bounty of fresh, organic produce year-round. My garden is a pretty good size by San Francisco Bay Area suburban standards, but by no means is it huge. So, I hope to offer tips on how to care for plants, how to harvest and store the fruits of your labor (I’ll try to keep puns to a minimum, promise), and share some of my favorite recipes and uses for various fruits and veggies.

A lesser-known fact about me is that I used to run an editorial business. One of my clients was Sunset Magazine … so, I’ve had more than a casual exposure to some of the best gardening and cooking information I feel is out there. I pored over copy every month in that publication’s production stage for the better part of 10 years. How could my experiences working for the West’s largest and longest-running lifestyle publication NOT influence at least some of my subject matter here? I loved my time working with Sunset.

I also love music … if you’ve found your way here, you probably know me as a musician. My main website has tons of info, music samples, video clips, and photos for you to peruse regarding my music. I figure I don’t need to spend too much of this introduction here regurgitating info that already accessible at the top and bottom of this and every page of my site. :-)

Well, thanks for reading, and I’ll be posting something again in a couple weeks! Every other Wednesday, that’s the goal. Till then, keep swingin’, siempre en clave, dig it!