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January 3rd, 2017

Day 4 with no Gurus.

I’m definitely being tested. This is the time of year when many of the great teachers offer life-altering seminars and presentations on how to focus your mind and achieve your goals. I’m SO into that stuff. I love learning the new ways people are tapping into their brainpower! But I’ve made a commitment. I’m trying to see what my own mind full of information can achieve. I have 17 more days to go.

Music performance has been top of mind lately and it all started with an idea of becoming a Happy Jerk.

Lately, Quentin has been experimenting with, what we called the “Happy Jerk” mentality. Quentin is my husband and he is, hands down, the most gentle and kind creature I’ve ever met. However, he is on a mission to learn to love himself and this mission involves saying “no” to things that he would once say yes to, and setting boundaries that are not always agreeable in order to create more time for himself. With this in mind, he has accepted that he might have to look like a jerk to others. This is how we came up with the name….he might look like a jerk, but at least he’ll be a Happy Jerk. I’ve been inspired by the simplicity of this concept and, after observing him float through the holidays with a smile on his face, I decided it might be time for me to rock my own Happy Jerk and see what happens.

In order to explain what happened, I must first clarify something. I classify my career into two categories: Songwriter shows, and Entertainment Gigs. And I love BOTH categories. As a songwriter, I get to play to listening rooms and other wonderful venues where I can share my heart. As an entertainer, I’m hired to keep people happy and drinking. For some entertainment gigs I’ll play in the background while people dine. Other times, I’ll play to a group of rowdy, drunken dancing people who ask for encore songs long after my set has ended. At entertainment gigs, I stealthily perform some of my own songs and I use this a catching net for those people interested in songwriters. Approximately 1 in 10 people I meet are, what I call “trend-setters.” These are the people who seek out and support art before it becomes popular and they are the reason I’ve been able to extend the songwriter arm of my career…because of the fluke moments when trend-setters end up at a bar with some friends and I share one of my own songs that resonates with them. Over half my fan-base has been built by this tricky process and I’m grateful to have this extra opportunity as a songwriter.

So, what happened at this particular entertainment gig about a week ago, was that I applied the Happy Jerk mentality to a few moments of the show. It was a dining crowd and I was playing in the background. When I perform gigs like this, I’m always looking at the people. I take note of how old they are, how they dress, how they observe my stage (do they look at my guitar or keyboard? Do they look me in the eye? Do they NOT look me in the eye?). I’m always catering to, what I think, are the needs/wants of the crowd…some want romance, some want honesty, some want reflection, some want distraction. All of these moods can be created using musical ambiance (if they are open to it) and I try to serve as many people as I can. BUT this particular night, I decided that some songs are just for me. I focused on the mood that I wanted. If I were to be honest, most of the time I want freedom. Sometimes I feel like a racehorse stuck behind the starting gate. Just LET ME RUN DAMMIT! My freedom doesn’t look like a screaming rockstar. It simply looks like the full expression of who I am. An example could be a performance that I might do at home in my studio…showing off for myself. When I play for fun at home I will often finish as though I’ve just awoken from a dream and find that I’m sweating…sometimes enough to change my clothes. I love to close my eyes and let my own voice and hands take me somewhere. THIS is my actual hobby and I rarely let anyone else see it. Most of the time I keep it under wraps. I don’t want to expose this part of myself. She’s wild and out of control. But on this night, I let her run free…just for a couple of songs I let myself be transported. I held all my energy inside with no regard for anyone else. And I was surprised afterwards when I noticed people clapping loudly for these particular songs. I did it again at my next gig and experienced the same reaction. I’m not a fan of sweating in my dress clothes. But I guess that’s the trade off for being a happy jerk.

So this has brought me to my latest experiment which is to incorporate some Happy Jerk into my shows. This contradicts how I’ve worked for most of my life. I’m usually 80% in the song and 20% aware of the audience. I’m sure this comes from musical training and phrases such as “you must look people in the eye when you perform.” I think I’ve been fooled into thinking this is the right way. But I’m not so convinced anymore. I once performed a TEDx talk and spoke about the amazing way we can use music to tap into our spiritual selves. But, strangely, I hadn’t considered the effect of tapping into my own spiritual self while on stage. I’m more interested in getting the audience to have this experience. But, what if I just focus on myself and give no regard to the rest of the world? For one, this would give me a wonderful experiment in psychology and spirituality, and secondly, it would allow me to embrace my hobby of playing music to fulfill my soul.

I currently believe that our next essential evolution as a human race will be to learn how to take control of the energy within ourselves. It will be to develop a pathway similar to Alcoholics Anonymous where we become accountable for our addictive mind patterns and are willing to work at changing them. This process will require a great humbling and an admission that we actually have this addiction. “Hello, my name is Angie, and I’m addicted to my own thoughts.” There seems to be enough proof to say that humans who are capable of shifting their internal energy can affect numerous living organisms within a huge radius of their physical bodies. Something inside me knows this to be true. I know that, in the moments when I’ve been in a room with an individual who is emitting an energy of pure love (usually just before death) there is an unstoppable energy that encompasses everyone and, if you let it infiltrate your body, it feels similar to being swaddled into a blanket and lovingly rocked.

This brings me to my final conclusion. I have realized that, for quite some time, I’ve been experiencing a conflict in faith. Without having to prove it, I know something of the effect of this mysterious energy that each living being emits. I know I’m susceptible to absorbing the energy of others but that I also have a slight ability to alter it within myself… and it just so happens that playing music is the most powerful tool I have. For the longest time, I’ve been trying to argue that music can help alter the energetic state of others but I’ve somehow stopped myself from experiencing the full effect of my own performance when I’m in public? I’m good at sounding sincere or looking like I’m having the time of my life. It’s not that sincerity and joy aren’t flowing through me…they are…just at 80%. I’ve been missing the other 20% for fear that I will disconnect from my audience if I truly let go and sink into my spiritual self. And so this will become my new experiment…to let my self disconnect every once and a while and risk being a Happy Jerk : )

Stay tuned for more results.

Yours in joy,