Continuity Chop Wood Carry Water

Day 141 Week 20 Q2 Saturday, May 18, 2024

Once you are on the right path, there will be many distractions, attempting to push you off it. Part of this is homeostasis, which is trying to return you to a prior equilibrium. But once you have established a set of habits, which are the appropriate behaviors to get you to where you need to go, you have to resist this and make sure to continuously follow your path. At this very moment, my path is the best that has ever been, and therefore it needs to be protected against the large number of homeostatic inputs, which will try to push me off it.

If the rest of your routines need to be reorganized to support your habit, then so be it. The habituation of the appropriate behaviors needs to be sacrosanct and protected at all costs. I am on an infinite path, and I have no intention of getting off it. Creating a blog post every day with a musical and artistic component is a fabulous practice.

Using this daily creative activity as a repository to support weekly columns and monthly television shows is a fantastic pipeline for content that can be deployed to create a new profession. Some of the things I have learned in this process are that playing solo guitar with some external, humanized artificial drumming is a potent and compelling combination.

I can also practice giving my speeches on my TV show. And no, a teleporter is not the way to go. Summarizing the bullet points that I want to integrate is a far more natural creative process, which is the only way it’s going to work for me.

There are plenty of pianists in the world who can deliver a solo gig, but there are far fewer guitarists who can play bass and lead and Melody at the same time and when you integrate with some external drumming, and then apply some signal processing to the guitar to fatten it up and increase the sustain using combinations of compression and delay and micro looping, well this is a pretty unique combination, especially when you consider the addition of singing.

If you want to compare an instrumental piano piece with a solo guitar piece that also includes vocalizing and using drums, I don’t think there’s much competition on the keyboard. I am also playing two different instruments along with the drummer, which gives me a trio and then a quartet.

Therefore, straight piano playing doesn’t really make sense. It also depresses me of the entire ability to orchestrate and arrange which are both central to my unique offering.

Chord Guys and Note Gals

Day 140 Week 20 Q2 Friday, May 17, 2024

Got your attention didn’t I?  Musicians often gravitate towards different skill sets and software tools based on their training and musical genres. A common observation is that many female musicians are classically trained, focusing on reading standard notation and precise note execution. On the other hand, male musicians tend to be self-taught, with a stronger emphasis on chord changes and improvisational abilities, particularly in genres like rock and jazz.

However, these tendencies are not strict rules, as there are numerous exceptions across genders. The distinctions seem more tied to the nature of musical education in different genres. Classical training programs typically do not heavily involve chord change theory and improvisation, instead prioritizing mastery of reading notated melodies and interpreting composers’ written instructions with precision. Conversely, contemporary genres like jazz and rock place great importance on understanding harmonic chord progressions, improvising melodies over those changes, and listening by ear.

The divide between melody-focused classical training and chord-focused contemporary training is reflected in the music software tools preferred by musicians of different backgrounds. For instance, those educated primarily in classical notation often gravitate towards programs like Sibelius or Finale, which are designed for score writing, editing individual notes, and following along with the visual representations of composed pieces. In contrast, musicians adept at improvising over chord changes and building arrangements from recorded tracks often prefer digital audio workstations (DAWs) like Ableton Live or Pro Tools, which function similarly to traditional multi-track tape recorders for layering instrumental and vocal parts.

At the core of this divide is the role and prioritization of improvisation. Historically, classical musicians were expected to showcase improvisational skills by spontaneously embellishing melodies and adding ornaments at designated repeat sections within notated scores. However, this practice has declined mainly in modern classical pedagogy, resulting in a significant loss of improvisational abilities in many classically trained musicians today. On the opposite end of the spectrum, improvisation is fundamental to genres like jazz, rock, and other contemporary styles where understanding chord progressions and spontaneously creating melodic lines and solos over those changing chords is essential to the art form.

Recent technological advancements in music production software, such as Apple’s integration of AI capabilities into its Logic Pro DAW, aim to bridge this longstanding gap. Features like the Chord Track, which visually maps chord progressions over a composition, and AI-driven rhythm section players, which can generate realistic drum and bass parts based on the user’s chord progression, allow score-based, notation-centric approaches and more freeform, chord-based improvisational workflows to coexist more seamlessly within the same creative environment. The ultimate goal is for modern music software to provide comprehensive suites that excel in supporting both traditional melodic notation for composed pieces and the more fluid, improvisation-driven needs of chord-based music creation.

Ultimately, versatility that spans the traditionally distinct skillsets of music-reading proficiency and chord-based improvisation enhances a musician’s overall creative potential, allowing for seamless expression across genres and styles. As software tools continue evolving to provide more unified solutions spanning these historically separated worlds, musicians will be better equipped to fluidly navigate composition, arranging, performance, and the transcendent intersection of technology and artistic expression.

Homeostasis

Day 139 Week 20 Q2 Thursday, May 16, 2024

What does homeostasis have to do with creative outliers? Well, as has been mentioned in the past people who are abnormally creative, have a tendency to not follow what society wants them to do. This is a good time to define the word homeostasis.

Homeostasis is the tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes.

Once our body has evolved, a steady heart rate, and a steady rate of breathing intense to want to hold onto this, to help keep us alive.

Societies have learned that having most of their members be willing to take orders and not ask questions is a good survival strategy, at least in the short term. This is why parents and managers, and heads of institutions,  companies and countries all are resistant to change.

Homeostasis, the body’s tendency to maintain internal stability, can pose challenges for creative outliers by resisting change in several ways:

1. **Comfort Zone Maintenance**: Homeostasis encourages individuals to stick to familiar routines and behaviors. For creative outliers, this means they might struggle against an internal pull towards stability and predictability, making it harder to pursue innovative and unconventional paths.

2. **Stress Response**: Creative endeavors often involve uncertainty and risk, which can trigger stress responses. Homeostasis drives the body to reduce stress and return to a stable state, potentially discouraging the sustained effort and resilience needed for long-term creative projects.

3. **Energy Conservation**: The body aims to conserve energy and avoid unnecessary expenditure. Creative pursuits, especially those requiring intense focus and dedication, can be energy-draining. Homeostasis might push the individual to conserve energy rather than expend it on what the body perceives as non-essential activities.

4. **Social and Environmental Pressure**: Homeostasis isn’t just about physical balance but also social equilibrium. Creative outliers might face societal pressure to conform, which can be a form of homeostatic resistance. The need for social acceptance and the fear of negative feedback can make it difficult for them to persist in their unique endeavors.

5. **Mental Resilience**: Maintaining mental homeostasis involves avoiding cognitive dissonance and sticking to existing beliefs and patterns of thought. Creative work often requires breaking free from conventional thinking, which can create internal conflict and resistance.

Despite these challenges, creative outliers often find ways to harness their drive and passion, pushing through the discomfort and resistance homeostasis imposes, driven by the enormous fulfillment they derive from their creative pursuits.

Matched

Day 136 Week 20 Q2 Wednesday, May 15, 2024

If you have the good fortune to have a set of things that are expected of you, which are the same as the things you really want to do, then you are matched. This is a pretty glorious state to be in. So much of the time, there are a large number of tasks we need to address, which have nothing to do with what we care about. In fact, for much of our lives, the dominant set of activities we are involved in may have nothing to do with what we really want to be doing.

It really does feel terrific when you have a tremendous amount expected of you, and it is precisely what you want to do. In retrospect, I have been trying to figure this out for 40 years, when I was first told by a boss that we didn’t know what to do with you. You’re going to have to figure out what to do with yourself. This was not meant as a pejorative; it was actually an extremely positive and respectful interaction. 

I feel incredibly fortunate to have had such a boss who had the intellectual and emotional security to not feel the need to micromanage me or, evidently, even manage me at all. This was not a stupid man who did not know what to do. He was actually a brilliant individual who determined that he would get more out of me by having me do what I thought I needed to do, and he trusted me. He knew I would do the right thing even if he didn’t know what it was beforehand.

This was at Bose Corporation, where I was working on sound research. The company’s tagline was better sound through research, and this just suited me wonderfully. I was able to spend a decade in this beautiful environment, and then, amazingly, when I moved to Apple Corporation, I was greeted with the same conditions. They also did not tell me what to do and permitted me to work on what I wanted to do.

When you spend 15 years of your life working for world-class organizations that give you incredible degrees of freedom, you kind of get spoiled. And you kind of expect to have a lot of freedom. I did not realize at the time just how unusual this was, but it made the pattern of expectation for the rest of my life.

Right now, I find myself doing precisely what I want to do, which is a combination of composing and performing music, writing and publishing columns about technology, and having a television show on a local cable station about harvesting Infinity, my favorite topic. This is actually every innovator’s favorite topic. I get to interview other creative outliers to see how they are creating MeaningPlace in their lives. 

The people at the station, the people I bring on the show, and I are all in the business of harvesting infinity, which is precisely what all creative outliers and innovators really love to do.

It is fantastic to be matched to what matters most to you.

A Reel and B Reel

Day 135 Week 20 Q2 Tuesday, May 14, 2024

When filmmakers start shooting, they used to have a primary reel of film called the A Reel, containing the core message and narrative. They also had an additional reel, the B Reel, for supplementary information, behind-the-scenes footage, deleted scenes and other content not part of the main storyline. When constructing a show, movie or program, the B Reel provided supporting material to supplement and fill in around the core A Reel storyline. At least two “piles” or reels of content were needed, and since physical film reels were expensive, often only two could be affordably produced.

Even in today’s digital age where data storage is inexpensive, the conceptual notion of separating content into two distinct components – a primary reel and a secondary reel – persists. While you can theoretically have numerous computer files due to ample digital storage space, structurally you still require at least two high-level “reels”: one for the main, central narrative content and another for ancillary supplementary material that could distract or digress from the primary core message if intermingled.

This delineation has carried over to other media like print. Magazine articles and books previously utilized physical “sidebars” as separated offshoots to make digressions or explore tangential ideas related to but distinct from the main body’s thrust. Likewise, legal contracts may have appendices or attachment sections to expand upon ancillary information in a dedicated space without disrupting the primary subject matter’s narrative flow.

For creative individuals who are outliers constantly generating many divergent messages, ideas, supporting materials and simultaneous projects, this conceptual abundance can quickly become overwhelming to manage. The classic filmmaking tool of separating content into two distinct reels acts as a convergence force, preventing the creator’s focus from drifting off into an unbound infinity by providing a finite, compartmentalized set of “containers” to wrangle.

If you are working on a central main creative project and other interests, potential subplots or disconnected ideas arise, you can temporarily relegate and deposit them into a secondary separate “B Reel” file or space. However, it’s wise to be cautious about proliferating too many additional elongated project tracks beyond that single “B” space, as that begins to reintroduce the same paradox of diffusion.

Mechanisms to protect one’s efforts against an overwhelming, centrifugal force caused by a constant deluge of new ideas and trajectories are invaluable. Trying to comprehensively integrate and focus on a multitude of thoughts and strands simultaneously becomes increasingly arduous without first distilling them into a limited number of cohesive paths. The traditional filmmaking construct of separating content into two distinct reels – primary and secondary – provides a straightforward system to help center and streamline one’s creative efforts.

Force of Convergence

Day 134 Week 20 Q2 Monday, May 13, 2024

Often, creative outliers are a force of divergence. We have many ideas, and they are not all in the same direction. Sometimes, when we share our ideas with others, we confuse them by providing too many options. When a group feels frozen and unable to move forward, a creative outlier can get them unstuck. However, getting unstuck and getting moving are not the same. In other words, you can pull somebody out of a ditch and get them back on the road, but which direction should they follow?

If you can create options extremely easily, you might tend to overdo it. In business, you might have a tendency to “selling past the close.” This means you’ve gotten people excited about what you’re offering, and then you confuse them by continuing to provide more options and information than they need.

If someone sends you an email with a one-paragraph question, and you answer with two pages, you’re engaging in “selling past the close.” One or two paragraphs usually suffice. Even if you’re determined to answer the question they should have asked, resist the temptation, because you would likely give them more information than they need. They won’t read it, and two weeks later, when they realize the question they should have asked, they’ll ask again, and you’ll be frustrated because you already answered it. You might not even remember the answer because you’ve moved on.

The flipside of having a tremendous number of ideas is the responsibility to be a force of convergence. After brainstorming and throwing everything up in the air, people will be confused and not know how to proceed. Some may want to move in the direction of one idea, and others toward a different one. You got them unstuck, but unless you accept the responsibility to converge, they won’t know what to do.

You might say, “I never intended to be a leader; I just wanted to get unstuck.” Unfortunately, unless you also act as a force of convergence, everyone will get stuck again, and it might be your fault because you gave them too many options and paralyzed them.

You can do this to yourself, too. You ask a question and come up with many answers, then spend forever evaluating all the possibilities. Too many ideas can be as counterproductive as not having enough.

This is why you need to be first a force of divergence, and second, a force of convergence. Otherwise, nothing may happen, people will still be stuck, and they’ll be frustrated because they briefly felt unstuck and then collapsed again. If you’re going to be a creative outlier, you’ll probably have to take some responsibility for leadership, and that means acting as a force of convergence.

Organizational Backhoe

Day 133 Week 20 Q2 Sunday, May 12, 2024

Sometimes, there is enough chaos and entropy surrounding you that you need to bring in heavy equipment. If you are a knowledge worker, there has been a major shift in what heavy equipment looks like. Heavy equipment used to be a new file cabinet, a new desk, or moving the furniture around in your office. If you are a knowledge worker today, heavy equipment might look like a new cloud account, a new app, or even a new computer.

The heavy equipment has not become less expensive, but it has become more in your head and less in your body and the physical world. Of course, even if you are a knowledgeable worker, you still have to deal with physical issues. Even knowledge workers have office supplies of some type or screwdrivers, power supplies, or other kinds of tools. Sometimes, we accumulate so many tools to assist us that we need new shelves, file cabinets, or drawers.

At times, this is precipitated by a move, flood, pandemic, change in occupation, or preoccupation. Having experienced all of the above within the last couple of years, it has become clear that I needed some sort of organizational backhoe.

You know, some heavy equipment to move a lot of stuff. In my case, eight new sets of shelves that are each 7 feet tall by 3 feet wide and 15 inches deep represented 40 shelves. And that is 40 large shelves. It’s a good thing I have a basement, except that it is also full of stuff, so in order to put the shelves in the right places, a lot of things need to move, and we are talking about 120 linear feet of shelves that can hold a lot of stuff. And there are a lot of things to have, from what was already in the basement to what is upstairs in the house.

This is the equivalent of an organizational backhoe. You will have to move a lot of land around, except in this case, it is books, tools, musical instruments, computers, clothing, and everything else that could fill an entire house and an entire life.

So, where do we start? The only reasonable place to start is with what kind of life you want to have, what kind of life you have already, and how you set things up to be able to move from what you have to where you intend to go. This is not so simple because many of these things are unconscious, and in order to design a new plan and manifest it by activating a set of new behaviors to make the unconscious conscious enough to do something to bridge the two. To bridge the unconscious and unconscious as well as the past in the future. This is a lot of reconciling, and it certainly needs heavy equipment. Hence the 120 linear feet of shelves. How often in life do we ever get that many unfilled shelves? For me, it has only been perhaps three times, all involving moves to new houses or floods in old houses or changes in relationship status, or sometimes more than one at the same time.

I suppose it would have made sense to have made a plan before bringing the heavy equipment, but since it was hard to imagine there being room for more than a few bookcases, I simply bought them, assembled them, and now have to place them appropriately.

Let the games begin by breaking out the organizational backhoe.

Balancing Integration

Day 132 Week 19 Q2 Saturday, May 11, 2024

Everyone knows how important it is to be able to be balanced in your life. This does not mean that you always are, but you know that it is a priority. On the other hand, if you are able to integrate all of the different parts of your life, you do not need to spend as much time balancing because the integration tends to hold you in a state of balance. This means you do not need to do a consciously significant, rebalancing every day because you already have a set of behaviors that makes sense within the context of who you are.

Even if you have the significant picture parts of your life well integrated, there are still numerous interruptions that cannot be predicted but have to be dealt with. This requires you to spend a certain amount of time reacting to things that need to be dealt with, and the act of doing this can get you out of balance, even if you are integrated. Therefore, rebalancing is called for but not at the same scale as it would be if you were not already integrated.

This is where prioritization comes in because if it is a tremendous priority to you to be integrated, and you know that you have become unbalanced through any given day’s activity, then you would have a tendency to want to rebalance by the end of the day—or, in the worst case, tomorrow or the day after. 

For example, if there are things that you know need to be done every day in order to be integrated and that you normally intended to do in the morning but were unable to because you had to respond to important changes and interruptions, then you can make it an even higher priority to get these done in the afternoon, even if they may bump other lower priority items.

This is a good reason not to schedule your entire day. For example, if you only schedule half of a day, then you can lose the other half to interruptions, and that may be entirely reasonable. It is far more sensible than attempting to control your entire day, and then when the unanticipated interruptions come and get thrown off your game, you’ve become too unbalanced to be integrated.

Some people plan their day between nine and five and then have time before work and time after work to deal with everything else. This is increasingly difficult; some appointments need to be made in the middle of the day, especially if you are self-employed or have a nontraditional career, such as an artist, musician, or researcher.

Is it worth it to just plan all of the integrated parts of your day to fit into a fraction of the day? For example, can you address all of the items that need to be integrated by behaviors within 3 to 4 hours, leaving the other 20 hours to deal with everything else, including resting and eating?

Well, why not? Say, for example, that you could address all of the important parts of your life between 6 AM and 10 AM and get nothing else done for the rest of the day. Would you feel integrated and balanced? I can answer for myself that yes, you can do this, and there have been days when only those few hours were controllable, well-defined, integrated, and balanced.

Once you habituate the integration, which means you can routinely perform it in this finite amount of time corresponding to only 1/6 of the 24 hours you have available, then you have 18 more hours to deal with everything else. This is not simple, but it can be done, and I try to do it every day. And most of the time, this works.

See if there is a way for you to do your balancing integration for a fraction of your day so that you can permit a large number of interruptions and crises to impinge upon you without destroying your integration and balance.

Spontaneous Delight

Friday, May 10, 2024, at 7:15:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time

Well, somehow, this morning, I felt like I had a hankering for some Indian percussion, and fortunately, there is a company called Lumbeat that has an Indian percussion app that runs on iPhones and iPads under IOS. Since 2020, when the MacBook Airs came out with an M1 processor, it became possible to run some phone applications on the computer. Fortunately, this is one of them that does work. Where else can you find an Indian percussion section complete with tabla and drone at six in the morning? You even have the option of specifying what pitch the drone is in as well as the tempo, complexity, intensity, and tie variation of the tabla. What a spontaneous delight, and of course, the percussion inspired me to pick up a guitar to play alone, and for some reason which I don’t quite understand, playing the guitar in the key of D while the drone was in the key of G perfectly fine maybe it’s like cross harmonica and the blues.

In any case, it was tough to stop playing. Fortunately, I hit the record button and, in a single unpremeditated first take, captured the soundtrack for today’s block posting. Since I had no idea what the settings on the Indian drummer application were, I took a screenshot of this, and this function as the image to accompany this block posting. And since this is a very full day and there wasn’t enough time to do a different journaling and block posting writing segment, I thought I’d combine the two right here. Why would the spontaneous delight be of any interest to create outliers? Simply as reinforcement, the kinds of things you do when you go down a role of having a new idea or something quite natural can generate quite a bit of delight. That’s why this column blog posting is called spontaneous delight..

I feel like I have woke in a different land and just had a couple of courses of a smorgasbord which had an infinitely large number of possibilities, but I took no time at all to examine or explore and simply pick the first one that came up and that did the t. I wasn’t even wholly awake, which perhaps deserves some of the responsibility for why this works so well. And while I am at it, I might mention that the guitar was plugged into my Mac using a USB cable, so there was no interface. This was a low-budget, low-effort effort. Roll out of bed and make some sound moments, and you might think it sounds like that as well, but I’m still digging it and plan for some more spontaneity in the future.

Pacing

Day 130 Week 19 Q2 Thursday, May 9, 2024

Yes, I know that you are a creative powerhouse, as most creative outliers are. I also know from personal experience that if you don’t take enough time to rest and take care of yourself and eat reasonably well, that is to say properly, your creativity will not be sustainable.

I also know that it takes longer to recover from creative binges as you get older. You tend to ignore sleep, food, people, and other responsibilities. You may be addicted to the adrenaline rush, but this is not a very good addiction as we age.

In other words, it is possible to spend tomorrow yesterday. What I mean by that is if you stay up really late and then don’t get enough sleep. The next day does not work very well. And by the time you have enough naps and other recovery activities to feel normal again well the day is mostly gone, which is how we all get into the cycle occasionally of staying up later and later until we’ve stayed up so late it is tomorrow we are going to sleep and then we have trashed that day.

I know we all like to be in the present moment and get driven by deadlines, but if you don’t think about tomorrow today, then when you get there, it is broken. The good news is that you can recover from this by wasting a day recovering. I suppose it conceivable that you could’ve accomplished so much by staying up late; it is worth it. And sometimes, it is, but if you make a habit of it, it is not sustainable, and you eventually trash yourself. Which is why I used to say that I boogie until I dropped.

As a young person, this did work. It was a very natural delimiter. It did not require any discipline at all. You simply went until you couldn’t go anymore. And then you rested until you recovered. And this was fine when you can go for several days with our rest and then just relax a few extra hours and make up for it. Well, those days are gone. I used to be able to lift my piano, but I am no longer able to do so.

I guess the point I am making is that being more organized and disciplined than not will permit you to live far longer and far more productively.

The good news is, I am no longer wasting inventory of my time burning rubber because now I don’t have enough energy to do so frequently, and therefore, I have more traction and get more done. A lot of extra energy I had an abundance was evidently wasted. I am not sure I got more done in the past than I get done now.