Sunday, April 4, 2010


When my wife and I visited Florence, we made it a priority to see some of the sculpture of Michelangelo in person. Impressive as every completed work was, the most striking image for me was the hall of unfinished "slave" sculptures that were originally intended for the tomb of Pope Julius II. Nine-foot-tall figures emerging from blocks of stone. Even though they are quite static in reality, I imagine them to be in a continual state of casting off the raw marble and stepping out into full view.

I have been thinking about those sculptures this week as I submit music to a few competitions and opportunities for performance. I am categorically an "emerging" composer. Although there are likely many definitions for that label, my sense is that an emerging composer is one who has received some acknowledgment and achieved some success but has yet to gain broad name-recognition, an international reputation, or prominent creative position. I am working toward becoming a sought-after composer, although that's not an official category, but I have realized this week how much I fit into the "emerging" category as a human being.

Since I began writing this blog a little over a year ago, I have gone from playing it safe to more consistently claiming my strengths. I have been developing skills and behaviors that wind up serving every area of my life, whether it is in teaching communication skills, working with other musicians, or the lessons learned in starting a business and networking. I have stepped more fully into local leadership of an international non-profit organization, and I have stepped away from environments that kept me from engaging my full capability and creativity.

Now I am learning again that everything I do in a day's activities can be things I truly want to do. Especially when I realize that how I am being is more meaningful that what I am doing. My attitude and my willingness to remember why I want to do those things makes the difference between a day of burdensome obligations and a day of playful engagement. So, in the midst of all my other activity this week, when I put aside another piece I was working on to start composing a flute piece that was in my head, I found the entire process to be rather playful.

Not only were some of the musical elements playful, but my way of approaching the piece was light. There is no reason I have to compose this piece, but the ideas seem more of a natural response to how I am wanting to be. And that opens up possibilities for the music that I am not always willing to pursue. I am already thinking of the flautists and flute teachers with whom I can share this piece, and what kinds of audiences I can engage. Recognizing why it is important to me that my music is performed and heard, without being attached to any specific outcome, helps me balance boldness and playfulness at a level I have not often been willing to trust. And I have no idea what will come of it.

So as I become more comfortable with what it means for me to be engaging life 100%, I am recognizing more opportunities to create and to have a positive impact on others' lives. Perhaps someday soon I will see results that place me in a "sought-after" category as a composer. Perhaps not. Either way, as a human being, I plan to keep emerging.

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