We hear the word "collective" thrown around a lot today. Co-ops of all types are popping up around the world,while the ideals of unity spread. As our awareness as a human collective grows, each human individual is able to see the inter-connectivity of all things in their life. Even despite the growing "evolution of our kind there is still a thick heavy cloud of negativity, narcissism and toxic thoughts which are a by-product of a consumer-focused society. Within our competitive culture we are rewarded again and again to strive to out perform, outlive and outlast our fellow species. How much of this heavy competition is necessary ?
One of the foreseeable conflicts of the capitalist controlled culture is that it leaves the individual with high expectations in a variety of aspects. One may feel as if they need to be perfect or set unrealistic standards for themselves or others. This creates a vicious cycle of low self-esteem, shame and hunger for praise. You can see a hunger for praise in the competition for likes in social media, or even aggressive business practices. Some individuals are so hungry for praise that they may disregard their own actions with their sights set solely on their self interests. We are constantly wearing ourselves thin with hundreds of emails, networking meet-ups, our kids functions, social media live webinars, Facebook groups, Instagram chats and "Friends" reruns. It's not all bad stuff but it's a lot of stuff.....maybe we all need to tone it down now and then.
Imagine if our society was designed with a stronger emphasis on community. Sure, we are individuals but as all homo sapiens we have much more in common than in difference. It's absurd that we get hung up on small insignificant differences(race, class, sex) as if they entail inherent value....
What is community to you ?
For me community should feel like home. We need to have each other's backs. I have unfortunately witnessed people left in the cold because other people they had trusted were unreliable or indifferent. This is a call to action for all and any homo sapiens. The only way to have harmony is to work together with differences aside. We find inspiring examples of harmony in jazz. For instance, a major seven nine chord has the sweet sound of thirds but also you can't ignore the crunchy 9 that adds tension. As many know, you can't have life, a story, without conflict. Conflict is inevitable, tension like conflict is also inevitable. We may not love either of these aspects of life however conflict and tension create depth. We need tension to appreciate release. We need conflict to indulge in resolution. You can find harmony within yourself first, then you'll see harmony can grow any where. Like flowers sprouting up from the pavement, harmony can happen even in less than ideal conditions.
In times such as this where parts of the country are drowning and others are burning in flames. Those in the middle must be mindful. Our duty to mother earth is clear, she has laid out all the instructions to us, all we need to do is listen. What if we were to connect the dots in our own lives ? Think of all the people living within a 5 mile radius of you. How many of those people do you know ? What do you know about your community? If the law of attraction is true, how different do you think you are from those around you? Your new potential best friend might be your downstairs neighbor. It's surprisingly common that few people know their neighbors. Living in a city in the digital age makes us all twice as vulnerable to become cocooned in our "second life" online, we become engrossed in the world of consumerism and we come home drained and afraid to ask for help, or support. We avoid reaching out for support for that would make us "weak". Instead of embracing the beautiful beings within our sphere we cling to likes, cling to accolades, we cling to things. How can we make sure we stay connected to what feeds us ? We underestimate the power of the real life human network, the physical energy that we are made up of, the connections that existed pre-Tinder.
As musicians we can help to sew the broken seams of the soul. With song we can express the stress of those unseen and unheard. We can sharpen an idea or inspire a dream. I would love to feel more authentic community in the music industry. Sometimes it feels as if people merely smiling and nodding rather than making conscious meaningful connections. I believe that we all can achieve more community by focusing on a few key things.
Community awareness and action
You don't always need to rely on Facebook to suggest events, some times a great way to connect with people you don't already know is just take a stroll through your neighborhood. Try going a down a new street. While I realize in areas like Chicago, some people may fear going to new areas because the possibility of them being more dangerous. Be aware of what's happening in your community so you can make smart choices but there's no need to live in Chicago with the constant fear to merely say "hello" to another human being. I believe we can help reduce crime by fertilizing our communities with more interaction. Remember that many violent behavior is usually a internal reaction to external influences. If we invest in our communities emotionally and spiritually we'll see changes!
The name of the game is play!
Play-therapy is used to help a wide variety of people from PTSD survivors to patients with dementia. Our culture piles on stressors and high expectation on us. With all the stress and deadlines we have forgotten we are all still children inside, we are still learning and it's O.K to be fun, to find playfulness in our day to day. We are taught by society that fun needs to be "grown-up" it has to be drinking it has to be serious, it has to be financially sound, it has to be strategical. We could benefit from shifting our lens now and then to a finding simple and more understated joys in our life. There are several moments of joy that await us that cost us nothing! When we share this joy with those around us, it can be healing and beautiful!
Know thyself first, then reconnect
It's good to be an active member of your community, to get to know your neighbors and make new friends! It's also great to check in with yourself to make sure you are staying authentic to your own desires and goals. It's easy to be influenced by that Instagram pal or that ad you keep hearing in your uber ride, however at the end of the day if you don't know what makes your soul tick no amount of mass media, likes or YouTube videos will answer the questions your heart yearns for. The answers to the questions of your heart will always come when you do the real live work with your body and soul. Alone. When you take the time to be alone you can take off the mask that society requires of you. I have admired many jazz greats for their ability to stay entirely authentic, and part of what makes someone like John Coltrane amazing, or Thelonius Monk is that when they created their most renowned compositions, they were just doing what made them tick. They weren't trying to get a thousand likes, in fact jazz sub-genres like bebop aimed to be obscured from public. Some of the most soulful musicians sound the way they do because they had rich inner lives. They created entire kingdoms from their souls. We all have the power to do that. If we don't connect with who we are sans mass media, sans trump sans consumerism we'll find ourselves lost in other's visions. When we all are connecting with each other from a place of authenticity that's when the real magic begins! If find you keep making toxic connections it may be that you need to disconnect first to heal then reconnect so that you can find people who match your authentic self. When we all disconnect and let go of toxicity we can all reconnect in healthier ways!
There's a saying that claims "you are what you eat" but it's safe to say these days you are what you consume! Consume can encompass media consumption, material consumption, social consumption. Where you spend your time and what you spend your time on will determine your personal happiness and in the long run the happiness of others. We can all take responsibility for own personal happiness so that we can connect as a stronger human unit in the future!