Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Blessing of Solitude

I'm in the process of writing a song for someone, and I learned some things from it.

First, that I can't focus very well while the tv is on. When the phones rings, or when anybody else is home. For an accomplished multi- tasker, I can't even begin to tell you how very frustrating that is! I am used to doing a hundred things at a time usually with no problems, but this discovery amazed me. Even I need solitude to think sometimes. Creating something from nothing is hard work, especially in music. At least, when you're trying to convey a message it is. I've written songs before, and usually they just flow out of me, an overflow of the joy that God brings to my life. Other times, they come out of sadness and respect for something I can't express otherwise. Rarer still are the times when I sit down and music comes not from me, but from somewhere within me-- and those are perhaps the most beautiful ones of all. The ones that are slightly reminiscent of old hymns mingled with contemporary praises to God, that are tinged with loneliness and sprinkled with a little whiff of the eternal. But all of these come naturally, without any effort really, a gift from above (trust me, I know I don't get the credit for that ability, that goes to Him). However. Writing something for another person, as opposed to amuse myself or songs written in worship, has proven to be a completely different experience. It exposes things in me I'd rather not look at-- insecurities, struggles, impatience, and most of all the desire to throw my hands up and say "forget the whole thing." At least, that's how it goes when I am constantly interrupted. But sometimes, even my thoughts are intrusive to the creative process. Has anyone else ever felt that way? I try and concentrate, but I can't turn down the volume of that never- ending to- do list. Sometimes I can, but not always. Those times I've tried to force myself to be creative have been fruitless.


Even stranger, when I feel lonely I can't produce anything worthwhile, either. But that is why English has two words to describe the subtle differences for being by yourself: "alone," and "solitude."

"Alone" encompasses a longing for someone else's presence, for a companion.

"Solitude," on the other hand, has the connotative meaning that you are not wishing for someone else but are comfortable where you are, how you are,in your surroundings. How beautiful.

This frame of mind, I have found, is best for creating something special. Music, after all, is love in search of words; the language of the human soul. How could I possibly have expected to produce anything worthwhile at all in the company of noise? Of distraction? Of pressing agendas?

Now I know better. What a blessing solitude is to the creative spirit!

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