Throwing out the baby with the bathwater

I spontaneously grabbed my alto recorder the other night while my daughter was playing in the bath. Since then, it’s become a habit for me to jam while she has splashing time. It’s maybe 15 minutes in the day, while my creations reverberate around the tiled concert hall that is the bathroom. My daughter, who’s a fast learner, has realised she can negotiate for more time by requesting “one more song”…and almost always gets it. 

It got me thinking about those art forms that drop out of our life when we are busy and intent on keeping our “primary” art form going. 

I earn my living writing and doing other creativity work. It’s also a huge part of my identity, so usually when I have pockets of time, that is where I invest it. In my dogmatic insistence that the pressures of the “real world” are not going to stop me writing, I have had to let other things go, sometimes consciously, sometimes inadvertently.  

Music is one of the casualties. I don’t earn money from it, and have no particular aspirations or dreams associated with it. There have been times in my life when I have performed, and others when I have gone for long periods with any kind of audience. I rarely talk about it, and am often quite happy not to be at all public with it. Occasionally, I am surprised to learn that that there are people in my life who don’t know that I am a musician, although there’s no reason why they would. It’s just so much part of who I am that it doesn’t occur to me to mention it. 

I hadn’t realised how much I had missed it. For me, playing connects me back to that experience of art and creativity that is just pure joy. It isn’t linked to my income, my vision for the future or how other people see me. It doesn’t “move me forward”. It doesn’t come up in coaching sessions, never appears on my to do list, and has no reason to appear on my business card. I’m not particularly concerned with how “good” I am, and it doesn’t elicit huge insecurities or anxieties.

What it does do is ground me, bring me closer to myself and adds meaning to my day. And for some reason, it can be easy to forget how important those things are. In fact, in terms of “artistic spirit,” it’s kind of like throwing out the baby with the bathwater. 

What about you? Are there other art forms that feed your soul, are meaningful to you, or just plain fun that have got lost while you were busy protecting your “primary” art form? What baby steps could you take towards reintroducing them into your life? 

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