Friday, March 31, 2006

How to Drink Enough Water

I am feeling slightly dehydrated today. I am conscious of the fact that I have not been drinking enough water lately, and now I am feeling lethargic and headachy. This may or may not have anything to do with dehydration, but it does seem to happen to me when I haven't kept up my water intake.

So it was fitting for me to find a post today on Lifehacker linking to the WikiHow article How to Drink More Water Everyday. This article has some good suggestions for maintianing good water consumption, but by far the best way I have found so far is to fill a 2 litre jug full of water every morning, and have that sitting on my desk with a glass. It is so easy to just sip away throughout the day, and before I know it I've drunk my 2 litres before 5pm. I don't mind drinking water - but if it is a hassle to go to the filter or the tap, and find a glass, and then wash it up... well, I will just not drink it then. If I make it easy for myself - the jug and glass are sitting there next to my computer - then I have no problem.

This is an interesting article about how much water we should be consuming every day, for any one who is interested.

Here's to happy hydration! Cheers!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Last night's train journey

I am sitting on the train with the beginnings of a headache. To the west, behind the clouds the sky is pale blue with deep magenta slashes through it. The reflections of the city lights in the train windows are superimposed on the last remnants of the sunset.

The train is starting to fill with passengers, eager to get home to dinner and the evening's television programs. They read books, newspapers, office documents. Each is sitting in their own bubble of personal space, their own island of discontent.

The season is changing. There is a chill in the air now, at night. Brown leaves are starting to appear on the ground, but strangely the trees are still outwardly verdant.

We are out of the city loop now - out of the noisy, cuving, concrete tunnels. The train sways on its journey along the tracks, stopping at all the little inner city stations: West Richmond, North Richmond, Collingwood, Victoria Park. It is too late for the express trains now - the fast bustling trains ferrying anxious commuters to and from their tall office blocks in the CBD. No, this is a lazy train, taking its time as it winds its way to the leafy north-eastern suburbs.

I miss living in the inner city. I miss being able to jump on and off trams, and walking home once the trams had stopped running at midnight. I miss the convenience of short distances and milk bars on corners.

This train journey is a new thing in my life - a different type of time. It is an in-between time, a time that is not nothing, but is not really something either.

What do people do on trains? Do they do different things from normal? Do they think different thoughts? Would the man sitting opposite me really read The Amulet of Samarkand if he were somewhere else? Would the man on the other side of the carriage read MX if he were at home? Would I be writing this if I were not on the train?

Monday, March 27, 2006

I Hope You Do!

I Hope You Do!
Author Unknown

I hope you woke up this morning with a big smile on your face
I hope the sun is shining just for you
and the birds are singing their very best songs...

I hope your coffee is hot and tastes just right
and the cats are purring contentedly, and the mailman waves a
cheery hello and there are no bills in the mailbox...

I hope just everything goes your way ...
I hope everything is well with your world,
a place for everything and everything in it's place...

I hope you can enjoy all you do and you are
complimented on the way
you look and you can laugh
and talk and share to your heart's content

I hope you have all you wish for yourself and those dear to you,
and all your dreams come true...

At the end of the day
I wish you a perfect moon shining just for you,
a snug and cozy bed with the softest of pillows
and I hope you sleep like a lamb with a smile on your face...

I hope you have a perfect end to the perfect day
and I hope that every day is just as wonderful in it's own way
I hope your day is ... filled with love!

From Inspiration Peak

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Love is the path to true fearlessness

This is a great post about falling in love by Rhonda Britten. I especially liked this paragraph:
Love is the path to true fearlessness. Without a willingness to be vulnerable (that is one way to love myself) and the courage to express all of me (that too is loving myself), I will never know who I could be, who I really am.

Friday, March 24, 2006

I can identify with this

This is a postcard that I have stuck on my office door.


I want one of these treehouses! Imagine a whole forest of trees with glowing suspended magic lantern treehouses joined by a delicate tracery of hanging walkways...

Thursday, March 23, 2006

How to be an Expert

If I ever needed a kick in the pants to put in the hours of practice, it is now. I am painfully aware of the (seemingly massive) gap between what I want to do with music and where I am now. I have the desire, but do I have the dedication?

I found this post - How to be an Expert - at Creating Passionate Users today, and it is exactly what I needed to read. It has served as a reminder that it is possible, but I really need to knuckle down. I need to dedicate and commit myself fully. It's certainly not going to be quick and easy.

...The only thing standing between you-as-amateur and you-as-expert is dedication...

(via Watermark)

Shame, Fear and Performance

Last night, in class, we had an interesting discussion about the nature of performance, and the importance of being 'present' duing performance. One of the ideas that came up was about the difference between shame and fear, which are both feelings/emotions that can adversely affect performance. This was something I had not thought about in this way before. Shame is felt about something that happened in the past, whereas fear is worrying about something that may happen in the future. Neither of them are about the present moment, although if we allow ourselves to become involved with either, it can have a significant effect on the present. Being successful in performance involves being free of the past and the future, shame and fear, and focussing on the reality of the here and now. Of course, this is always much easier to say than to do!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Book Review: Authenticity in Music

At only 78 pages, this slim volume is not in the least bit intimidating, yet manages to explore in some detail the philosophy of authenticity in (mainly) Baroque music. Raymond Leppard, whose academic and performing credits are extensive, including a 14-year stint as the Music Director of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, begins by illustrating the differences in approach to music reception or listening between today's globalized post-modern western society compared to the 19th and early 20th centuries' ideals of progress and improvement on the past. This is no more than a potted history, and is somewhat generalised, but is nonetheless a useful and I think necessary backdrop to a discussion about historical performance in today's world. I am not sure about his hypothesis that the atomic bomb was the big turning point where western culture abandoned the idea of progress in favour of the search for something deeper and more profound. Has this really led to the rise in popularity of early (Renaissance and Baroque) music, as a response to this search for purity and balance in a chaotic world? It's a nice theory, but I think it is perhaps a little too convenient. But then again, he only has a handful of pages for this development, and is certainly not pretending that he is presenting an in-depth exploration of the subject.

The second part of the book is a discussion and explanation of Leppard's own approach to interpreting and performing early music. He is not addressing the finicky little details of ornamentation and phrasing, but rather the general attitude and approach. He outlines the problems the musician has to grapple with: the incompleteness of the repertoire, inconsistent and often ambiguous notation, and great variation in advice regarding technique and interpretation, even in original sources. He points out the fact, simple but often overlooked, that, no matter how hard we try we can never replicate exactly the sound of the past. Even if we play Bach from Bach's manuscript on Bach's harpsichord in Bach's house using Bach's tuning system, we will still be playing and listening with ears and minds who have heard Mahler, Shoenberg and Franz Ferdinand.

The only way forward, Leppard concludes, is to find a middle ground between the pedantic pursuit of authentic purity and the communication with modern audiences. A compromise is needed, he writes, combining the knowledge about the past gained from academic study with a creative understanding of the spirit of music, and a focus on communication with the listener.

This book was very easy and enjoyable to read, and would hold interest for both listeners and performers. Leppard's style is conversational yet nuanced, and he includes musical examples to illustrate his points. I would have liked some suggestion for further reading, rather than the very brief notes at the end. Overall, though, I found this an interesting, thought-provoking book.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Shedding a whole new light on coffee

OK, so I can be a bit of a coffee freak. I do feel for anyone who tries to have a conversation with me before my first coffee of the day - it can really get ugly sometimes. But my coffee obsession is a passing interest compared to this guy.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Not all high-brow

I don't want this blog to be too pretentious, so in the spirit of light-heartedness, this made me laugh today :)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


I went to a workshop given by the amazing pianist and composer Andy Milne this afternoon. He played a few pieces and spoke a lot about the jazz scene in New York, which is so far removed from the tiny insular scene here - it sounds like another world. He said a lot of really interesting things, but what sticks in my mind is a little anecdote he told.

He was catching a cab somewhere, and the cab driver asked if he was Muslim. He replied that he wasn't, and the cab driver asked him what religion he was. Andy replied that music was his religion. The cab driver said that music wasn't a real religion, but Andy reasoned that music fills his life like a religion. It is with him every waking moment, and he relates all life experience to music in some way. After that there was silence in the cab for the rest of the journey, as they both pondered this. Andy said today that he should have tipped the driver for prompting him to come to this realisation.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Believing the Impossible

Sometimes I wonder whether we restrict ourselves unnecessarily by curtailing our imagination and beliefs. We might believe that humans are innately selfish, that synchronicity is impossible, or that we can't lose weight. Looking at the world as it seems right now, those beliefs could appear completely reasonable. But does this mean they are true? If you believe that you can't draw because you had a bad experience back in primary school, is this a true belief? I believed for a long time that I couldn't improvise, but this year I began taking improvisation lessons, and when I suspend my skepticism I find that it's really not as impossible as I had previously thought.

There are plenty of examples of individuals who have achieved things others had thought impossible - because they 'believed in themselves'. We don't even need to search very far to find people who have achieved goals they previously thought were impossible - because they changed their beliefs about themselves. But what if we could achieve things as a society that we never thought possible, like not killing each other in wars, for example? Would we ever be able to change our ideas about human nature to such an extent that we could achieve world peace?

"Don't be ridiculous!" "Humans have been fighting with each other since the dawn of time, why would we stop now?" I can already hear the incredulity in the air. OK, so humans have been killing each other for millennia - is that a good reason to assume that we cannot overcome that as a society? Just because something "has always been that way" is not a good reason to believe that it must be that way. What if we let ourselves believe, just for a second, that the world could be different? What if we opened the door to that possibility, just a little? What if a lot of people in the world did that? I'm not saying that we would have armies laying down their guns, but I think it is worth thinking about the possibility that things could be very different.

Brenda Coulter has written about suspending disbelief when reading fiction, and included a wonderful quote from Alice in Wonderland:
"Alice laughed: "There's no use trying," she said; "one can't believe impossible things."

"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

--Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll.

What if we too practiced believing impossible things?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Flat Parts of Life's Rollercoaster

I have been working through Julia Cameron's book The Artist's Way and this morning I decided to flip back through my morning pages. I found this entry that I had written back in September last year. It is still something that I haven't been able to solve yet.

Saturday, 24 September 2005.

Sometimes I don't seem to know what is real and what is not. I spent a lot of today wishing for something else rather than being in the experience of today. I think that us humans tend to want all the good times - those times when we feel most alive and energised - without any of the ordinary times. Really, it's not the bad times - the real low lows - that are the worst for me; it is the blah ordinary times - the days with no highlights or lowlights, with no contrast, the days that are bathed in a murky grey, the days that seem to have no purpose to them. Those are the days when I only feel half alive, when I feel that I am going through the motions, but not actually being there at all. What makes these days like that? Are they predestined to be that way? Is it something in the way we wake up? Does it have something to do with our expectations for the day? I know that I feel lost if I don't have a clear purpose, but I also know that I need to take time out. How do I do that without it going bad?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Bigger things than humans

Yesterday, as my plane taxied into Sydney Airport, I was struck by how small humans are compared to some of the things we have created. Everything in the airport fits together - the planes, the runways, the terminal building - and then there are these bizarre-looking little figures running around in the midst of it all. They looked incongruous, out of place, and incredibly fragile compared to the huge world of architecture and machinery. Will we one day construct a structure that is so huge and complicated that we will lose control of it? Some would say that we already have. The stockmarket is one example that springs to mind. It was conceived and created by humans, but does anyone really understand how it works? No one can control it with any certainty, and it has the power to cause great human suffering in the form of recessions and depressions. Will the monster break out of control one day?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The best punctuation mark

Question marks are my favourite punctuation just now. They are so curly and floaty like a balloon that is about to fly away, but is just hanging there for an instant. They are full of possibilities - who knows where they could travel to? They could even have different colours, like balloons. Red ones? Blue ones? Maybe even green ones?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Crayon Creativity

I just came across a post on TinkerX about a brilliant game the author plays with his 6-year-old son while waiting for their orders at restaurants. It is so simple, yet such a great way to get those creative juices flowing. I think, as adults, we often try to be too complicated about these things - we can learn a lot from watching kids!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

What is creativity?

Hmmm, what is creativity? That is a huge question, and not one that I could answer in just one blog post, even if I knew the answer. I'm not really sure that anyone can know the answer to that question in its entirety. In fact, there may well be no answer to that question, or not one that is true for everyone. What I can do, though, is start to question what creativity means to me. This is a topic that I think I will come back to again and again in future posts, but today, I think I would like to share one little anecdote with you.

It was my friend's birthday, a couple of years back. I had bought her a present and wrapped it nicely, but had forgotten to get a card to go with it. I really wanted to write her a birthday card, as well as give the gift, but I had no gift cards in the house, and I had no time to go to the shops. I hunted around in my desk, and found some black paper. Buried a bit deeper was a silver pen. I had the bare bones of a card, but what to put on the front? My drawing skills aren't that great, so I didn't want to draw a picture on the front. I needed something else. I wandered out into the living room, and saw the plants in the backyard. Suddenly, I knew what I could do. I grabbed a pair of scissors, went outside, and snipped a piece off one of the bushes in the garden. A dab of glue, and the card was complete.

My friend loved the card. "Oh, it's so creative!" she said, "I would never have thought of that." She was really impressed with my supposed creative talents, and almost had a tinge of envy in her voice.

Now, I don't think I am especially different from anyone else. I don't have some kind of creative gene that other people lack. I wasn't trying to impress anyone, or show off. Obviously I wanted the card to look good, but it was as a gesture of friendship and giving. I acted almost out of desperation - I was looking for something, anything that I could make some sort of card out of. I had no fixed idea in mind. Who was it said that necessity is the mother of invention? Well, it seemed that it was the mother of creativity in this case. Which, when you think about it, is really almost the same thing as invention.

I believe that creativity is not something that is innate in some people, while others miss out. It is less a "talent" and more an outlook on life, a way of seeing the world as full of interesting possibilities. It is about cultivating an open mind and an inquiring intellect, the courage to try new things, and the humility to not be defined by them. It is something that gets stronger with practice, and will dwindle if neglected.

Friday, March 03, 2006

First post

Welcome to JourneyMuse! The aim I have for this blog is to explore ideas and questions and musings about creativity, music and life. This will be a journey of discovery. I am not sure where it will lead, but I am excited about finding out. Let's jump on board!