Monday, May 17, 2010

Toss the Script

You know those days where things don't go exactly according to plan? Perhaps that's most days? But there are some days where things go less according to plan than others.

The Plan as of Friday
As of Friday afternoon, I would be heading to Los Angeles on Tuesday night for a series of meetings to kick of a new project. Normally, I would be spending Monday through Wednesday in New Jersey, but since I'd be spending Wednesday through Friday in California, I'd decided to spend the first half of the week in the Berkshires.

Seeing as I'd be here, I stopped by the auto dealer to have the guys listen to my brakes which to me sounded suspiciously as though the rotors were a bit warped. The mechanic agreed and scheduled me to get the rotors ground on Monday.

Seeing as I was going to be in California later in the week, I decided I'd finish a current project for Angel-Med over the weekend. So, I let one of the guys with whom I'm working that I'd get him the code on Monday.

Plans Change
While talking with Jonathan on Saturday, he let me know that the California meeting was being postponed a week; my time in New Jersey was back on. Five minutes later, one of my right molars decided to unceremoniously divorce itself from its better half. I haven't seen a dentist in more than a decade, so I started asking folks around Great Barrington about local dental repair shops.

On Sunday afternoon, after reviewing everything that she wanted to accomplish over the next few weeks, Iris told me that she would be in North Adams all day on Monday (about 55 miles away from me, a yet-to-be-determined dentist, and the auto shop) and then heading to Cambridge on Tuesday to arrange for the transition of our townhouse to new tenants.

So, I got up this morning thinking, Hmmmm...

What are the Changes?
Every Wednesday night, our little band No Room for Jello (NR4J) gets together to rehearse. Lately, we've been doing much less rehearsing of prepared numbers and much more jamming and exploring. One of us will start by laying down a riff or a set of changes, and the others will join in. As we play, the music will morph from one tempo to another, one key to another, one style to another, one solo to another, as each of us pursues his or her creative process, intuition and sensibilities.

Our sessions have become the most satisfying musical experiences of my life. We explore deeply, never knowing where our explorations will take us.

As I sat in the coffee shop the other day talking to Pete, he commented on how strong Iris, Butch and Scott had become. Pete and I have been playing most our lives and have played professionally. Scott, Butch and Iris are relative newbies who frequently experience uncertainty and doubt that manifests itself in hesitation, loss of where they are in a song, holding back and waiting for others to lead. But lately, none of that has been the case. They play strongly and consistently without hesitation or doubt.

Their strength frees Pete and me from the task of holding things together and allows us to explore, to take things "out" (out of key, out of time). Such explorations used to be akin to jumping high off a trampoline to execute an elaborate set of twists and turns only to find that when you returned to earth, the trampoline had simply stopped being a trampoline.

As we talked about how great the recent experiences have been for each of us, I pondered aloud, "I wonder what changed?"

Then it occurred to me that our latest rehearsals have been plan-free and agenda-free; we take things wherever they go. Because of this, there is no "getting it right". No one gets lost, because there is no lost. No one asks, "what are the changes?" No one loses time, because time just changes with them. Everyone has become comfortable with not knowing what's next.

Just Like I Planned It
So, there I was, standing in the kitchen at 6:45 this morning thinking, hmm... and I stopped. I stopped the passive figure-everything-out-before-doing-anything kind of thinking, started the active let's-see-where-each-step-gets-me kind of thinking.

I walked into the garage and noticed my bicycle hanging from the ceiling. I almost stopped myself by thinking about whether or not the bike would fit into the back of the car, but then stopped myself from stopping myself by simply grabbing the bike off the hook and opening the trunk.

When it didn't quite fit, I opened the front brake calipers, loosened the quick-release hub, and removed the front tire. Voila!

Having the front tire in my hand, it felt much more like twenty-pounds of air-pressure than than sixty-five, so I almost stopped myself again thinking about whether or not to remove the bike from the trunk and pump up the tires. I stopped myself from stopping myself, grabbed the pump and filled the tires without needing to remove the bike from the trunk.

I walked back into the house, grabbed my backpack, kissed Iris, jumped in the car and started it up, nearly stopping myself again to contemplate whether or not the auto shop was open yet. I stopped stopping myself and started driving.

I walked into the shop, handed the guy behind the counter my keys, and then peddled over to Fuel, where I promptly proceeded to stop myself by contemplating whether or not to write a blog. I stopped stopping myself and started writing.

Somewhere along the way, I called one of the dentists on my list and started explaining my situation. Just as the woman with whom I was speaking began taking down my information, my cell phone died. Again, I almost stopped myself, but instead, googled the address of the dentist, hopped on my bike and peddled my way over there.

Now, back a Fuel, Iris in North Adams, my phone plugged into the wall, my bike outside against a tree, my car at the shop, and an appointment with the dentist scheduled for tomorrow morning, and I'm writing to you.

Just like I planned it.

Happy Monday!

1 comment:

  1. This morning I was supposed to drive a few hours to get to a meeting. Just as I was ready to leave I got a txt saying that the meeting was postponed... I went back, relaxed, did some homebanking and as I left my house I saw an old friend on her bike. She must have passed this way almost every day for the last 6 yrs. As Mark K would say "I just moved" - I've been living here 15 months - and I have never seen her her. It didn't take long to catch up with her, and it happend that she a lot on her mind.
    What a nice coincidence...


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