And much of that time, I was completely immersed in the English Department at SJSU, which had recently begun to offer an MFA in Creative Writing, so there was a great deal of writing going on there. During those years I attended literary readings, plays, local artists' and musicians' shows, and open mics. And surrounded by all those people's dedication to their respective arts, I found it pretty natural to remain, often, inspired myself. It was a really nice period of my life and one I've missed from time to time.
There were also times when I convinced myself that the last thing I needed to do was to surround myself again with more dreamers like myself. The thing about people who are drawn to the Arts and Humanities is that they really can talk a WHOLE lot of bullshit. We could bullshit and dream and speculate and weave saucy tales all day long, live on subsistance salaries, pray/eek/grit our ways through every month's bills and stop so long to smell the roses, then talk/write/paint about the roses that we don't even notice when they've dried up and winter's come.
What I really needed was balance. I needed to move forward with my adult life and career, yes. But I took it a bit too far and decided to nix the creative elements (and people) from my life entirely. In recent months, I've been happy for any opportunities to welcome inspiration back in.
Which is how I ended up at Rosie McCann's with Kelsi Monday night. I learned (thank you, Facebook) that the band of an old acquaintance of ours from my carefree college years (who used to play at an open mic we frequented) was playing down there, and I thought going would be a nice way to close out the holiday celebrations.
So Timeless, Jonah Johnson's project, is nothing if not inspiring. The group (a revolving kind of collective comprised of Jonah, his sister, and a gang of talented musicians including a brass section) is so full of positive, uplifting energy that even an overcrowded dance floor of people at snooty-ass Santana Row couldn't help but smile and be nice to each other. It probably helps that most of those folks were lured there by So Timeless itself, which tends to attract other positive people, believers in what you put out there coming back to you.
It was really nice to be there with Kelsi, too. I love going to hear music with her because we can dance and talk, but also just listen together, appreciating specific instruments or beats or whatever. The highlight of the night as far as music goes may have been this hip-hop/jazz/soul/r&b group's take on The Cure's "I Will Always Love You," which I really wish I had a recording of.
The highlight of the night apart from the music was the simple act of remembering that creativity and inspiration are ALWAYS there when you are ready to embrace them. I used to associate those days of readings and concerts and the open mic where we met Jonah and bullshitting about all of the above with my youth, time-capsuled off and traded in for more responsible endeavors. But that thought itself is bullshit. I want to live the rest of my life surrounded by inspiring people who aim to put something new out into the world.
We can't all be that way, for sure. Some people were born to appreciate the art that's put into the world and not necessarily create it (sometimes I feel I belong in that category), but surrounding myself with creators enriches even the act of appreciating those creations. When I see the people behind the efforts, learn about what inspires and drives them, and sometimes even get to witness the creating, I think I am more open, less critical; I see and hear things I may not have otherwise.
That also makes me more forgiving of my own efforts and more able to just start. Just START something to see where it may go. When I'm closed off and critical, I'm fearful of even the starting.
So I offer up a toast to Monday's outing, and Kelsi and I have pledged to do these sorts of things more often together--to take our minds off the concerns of parenting and (in her case) marriage for a spell and get back into the realm of creativity. I'm beginning to believe that--if there is anything real about the concept of a Fountain of Youth, the realm of creativity is where it dwells...
Here's a really sweet So Timeless song as a parting gift (gotta wonder why the horns are here when I don't actually hear any in the song, but they are usually actually *playing*, hahaha) :)