Parable with Ruckus and a Pile of Wooden Toys

Lately I’ve been thinking about the difference between a business-as-usual mindset (and subsequent output) and an only-here-and-only-now mindset (and subsequent output).

The former feels forced to me — the old square peg / round hole dilemma. If you’re on either end of that equation, during a quarantine, it will grind you down over time.

The latter feels freer, better, and certainly more energizing.

Imagine it this way: You’re in a traditional rock and roll band. You make music with a guitar, a bass, a drum kit, and an amplification system that makes the whole ruckus really loud. You like making music that way, and through a combination of smart work and dumb luck, you slowly start to build a name for yourself. People reward you by paying attention to the music you make, by showing up for your concerts, by streaming your work and sharing it with others. You’re able to buy better versions of the same equipment. You push yourself, of course, but you end up putting out music that is consistent in some ways.

Now imagine this: One day, you — and your signature sound — are transported to and locked in a room. You’re told you will have to stay there for an indefinite period of time. You look around and realize that, besides food and water and a bed, you have access to a tambourine, an out-of-tune piano, a pile of wooden toys, and a boom box with a record button and a stack of old-school cassette tapes.

In that situation, you’d have to ask yourself: business-as-usual or only-here-and-only-now? Old ruckus or new?

And of course you’d have to make an even more fundamental decision before making those decisions: are you really a musician, someone in a deep relationship with sound, or did you just like the way you looked holding that guitar?

Only here and only now.

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