Wisdom Generation

It’s been years since I posted anything on my blog, but that’s not because I haven’t been learning, studying, and living. I guess the blog bug wasn’t biting. No. That’s not the whole picture. I haven’t posted partially out of fear of having nothing worth saying – no insight rich enough, or deep enough, or worthy enough.

Recently I’ve been learning a new software platform, DaVinci Resolve, to create videos, and have really enjoyed the learning curve and what can be done. It’s a refreshing change from music practice, but it has actually helped to focus the practice I make time for. You can see some of my work here and here.

Last week was the week of the Texas winter storm. No power for a while, boiling our drinking water. We are fortunate. It was harder, more desperate for many. During it and right as things started to thaw out, I was struck by the thought “don’t return to business as usual” but also in opposition to that thought was “move forward.” Since then, less than a week ago, I’ve been struggling to find the balance between them.

As a teacher, I feel it’s imperative that I’m honest and candid with my students that what happened is an example of what, in my opinion, was the result of decades, generations of, “business as usual.” I’m culpable myself. I haven’t educated myself on power grids, how they work, what the financial models are that prop them up, and how vulnerable we all are to their collapse. But, that’s not to say I haven’t had a sense for much of my life how vulnerable I am, we all are, in the midst of nature’s grip. Getting a 1st-person experience in it was powerful.

Classes resume (online) tomorrow for students and I’m still a bit unsure what I want to say, what kind of space I want to create for my students. So this blog entry is basically a place for me to work it out.

What I want to convey is that life isn’t going to get less complex or easier. Life is going to continue getting more and more complex. I want my students to understand, to be prepared for the coming challenges we all face. As a music teacher, in the year 2021, I often have doubts that what I’m teaching (and especially how I teach it) isn’t adequately preparing students for life after high school. My own “business as usual” isn’t cutting it. I need to re-frame and re-presence what the value, meaning, and purpose of music and being a musician is.

In Forrest Landry’s Immanent Metaphysics, he says…

“The totality of the relationship between self and reality is understood in terms of six subjects, six paths. These may be known as spirituality, religion, science, technology, mysticism, and magic.”

Art is the combination of technology, religion, and the working of magic. Philosophy is the combination of science, spirituality, and mysticism. Metaphysics is the integration (unifying basis) of all six paths into a common whole.”

So, my takeaway here is that the relationship between self and reality is expressed through art and perceived through philosophy. Now, that’s actually three things: art, philosophy, plus relationships. So, what I want to do a better (more complete) job of teaching my students is helping them understand that what they are doing when they play and study music is they are expressing and perceiving. They are expressing their perceptions, and those perceptions in turn inform their expressions, and back and forth they go. And the relationships they have between those two things, plus the relationships they have with others is the essence of “wisdom generation.”

To make sense of the world, to give meaning to the world, requires participation in the world, the relationships we have within ourselves, with our family, friends, and peers, and with the physical world itself.

For instance, when we talk about DYNAMICS in music, we’re pointing to the RELATIONSHIP between people, groups, and things. How do they interact? How SHOULD they interact? The world IS dynamic, in that it’s constantly changing. When we talk about TIME and TEMPO, we’re pointing to the understanding that EVERYTHING happens in TIME. Sometimes the music stays steady, sometimes it speeds up, and sometimes it slows down. And, importantly, even when the notes end, TIME keeps GOING. When we talk about ARTICULATION, we’re DEFINING and CREATING meaning. When we talk about MELODY, PHRASING, and LYRICISM, we’re pointing to the STORY being told, the character of (in) the piece. When we discuss HOW TO PRACTICE we’re pointing to HOW TO GROW ON PURPOSE. When we PLAY, we PLAY! And, what it FEELS like to PLAY is a critical aspect of growing up, BECAUSE playing is essential to DISCOVERY, ADAPTATION, and IMPROVISATION. When we teach how to COMPOSE, we’re teaching HOW to DESIGN, ENGINEER, and ARCHITECT things of value and purpose.

All of these elements of learning music, and many more, are essential parts of wisdom generation. And of course there at least two ways to read wisdom generation.

First, it’s in the verb sense. We must generate wisdom to have meaningful lives. The capacity to BE wise is directly proportional to the meaningfulness of life.

Second, wisdom generation is also the noun sense. This generation could become, could take up the mantel of the “Wisdom Generation.” Their relationship to and cultivation of wisdom will need to be transformed far beyond historic uses of the word (by an exponential factor), but also sourced deeply in those lineages which have taken us this far.

There’s so much more to say, but for now, I’ll end with this – Learning to play music is training for playing life. And that’s the most important play we do.

-Ponder, Feb. 23, 2021 – “your life is your greatest work of art”

For those who are interested, my current favorite podcasts are those produced by Rebel Wisdom (David Fuller), The Stoa (Peter Limberg), and Integral Life (Corey deVos). Some of my current favorite authors, speakers, and researchers are:

  • Zak Stein
  • Daniel Schmachtenberger
  • Jordan Hall
  • Nora Bateson
  • Forrest Landry
  • Rob Smith
  • Jamie Wheal
  • John Vervaeke
  • Gregg Henriques
  • Greg Thomas
  • Steve McIntosh