Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Why I Can't Sit Still and Listen or Stand Back and Watch

I guess I failed to mention my new year's resolution. I will not buy myself new clothing for the entire year of 2009. This is because I have ENOUGH clothing, because I don't need to use shopping as a source of entertainment, and because I'm sick of the consumerist values I have allowed to sink so deeply into my character.

I've heard of people garbing themselves entirely with the castoffs of others. I really like that idea. After 2009 we'll see how plausible that is for me.

Also, I realized something about myself. The hardest thing in the world for me to be is passive. Today I went to the HUB-BUB AIR invitational exhibit opening. My favorite pieces were the memento boxes artists create at the end of their residency at Elsewhere, an artists' collaborative with an emphasis on creative play. Why were these my favorite? I'd like to say because they were aesthetically striking and I felt like I connected to the soul of each artist and felt I was experiencing part of their Elsewhere journey through the objects, and that wouldn't be untrue. But the real reason they were my favorites is childishly simple. I could PLAY with them. Not only was I actually allowed to touch them, I was encouraged to pick them up, open them, rifle through and examine the contents. The tactile dimension and the explorative process were immensely satisfying. I have gotten in trouble at art shows and high-end stores countless times for TOUCHING the goods (heaven forbid!). It's a part of who I am, to experience something fully I must touch it.

But it's not just touching. I can't just watch, I yearn to participate in whatever I'm looking at. That's why I've always hated watching sports, ever since I was a little kid. Even if I would be the slowest kid out there, never catch the ball, and keel over exhausted after the first play, I'd rather be in on the action. Not to be is almost...torture.

This is true to a lesser degree with music. While I love attending classical concerts and listening to records, with most live popular performances, I can't sit or stand still. I at least sway a little in my chair, I'm even happier if I can get up and dance. But I'm the happiest yet when I can have even the tiniest part in making the music, whether that's clapping along or jamming along. Like when I went to Sonny's for open mic, I couldn't keep my hands off of Kerry's djembe. Here are these songwriters up on stage strutting their stuff, and here's me at the corner table drumming quietly (sometimes not so quietly) along. When I didn't have the djembe, as much as I wanted to pay attention, I was easily distracted and quickly bored. And this is why I love the Jam so gosh-darn much. To get right to it, it's not like I'm really doing it for the community. I'm doing it for ME. Because it's so darn FUN.

Yes, I wouldn't be surprised if it relates to ADD. (which runs in my family.) But it also relates to the way I was raised. I was homeschooled. Try sitting silent in the back of the class when the class consists of you, your mom, your textbook and your couch. I also grew up attending unusually participatory church meetings. Everybody says amen to the prayers, anybody can pray aloud at just about any time. Anybody can stand up and speak God's word instead of having to listen to some preacher lecture them all the time. Even the music gets chosen by whoever calls out a hymn number, and is played by whoever brought their guitar that week.

I guess I'm just spoiled. Yeah, that about sums it up.


  1. we should jam more often then since you like to be a part of making music :)


  2. It was a pleasure meeting you this evening Lydia. Sorry I had to duck out before the movie was over. I had to get home to help get kids into bed. :)


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