Tools and style

Back in the days before I had children, I used to be capable of writing a song in an afternoon. Usually I would also be able to spend a week or two refining it but mostly this would just amount to obsessing over the levels and possibilities for the different VST instruments and how well they worked together.

My friend Toby joked that Wagga Wagga allowed me to break the space-time continuum as this must surely explain my apparent productivity. The truth was, of course, less interesting and probably better explained in the opportunity to sketch ideas without interruption and then how a lack of social life allowed me to give these sketches enough attention to sound polished.

Toby predicted the demise of my music making when I found true love. I think it was because he assumed that any activity somehow serves the biological imperative of reproducing. That my beats and basslines were my dazzling peacock feathers and, now that they had won me a mate, the energy that made them would be directed into her.

Anyway, I'm recounting my memories here so I'm not entirely sure I've represented Toby's views correctly. He was right in some respects but I think the fact I feel like the quality and quantity of my music has declined represents a lack of time coupled with a cornucopia of possibilities.

I was thinking about Toby's observation today when I reflected on my inability to properly use a knife and fork.

In my youth, my former stepmother spent many dinners criticising my ability to hold cutlery appropriately at the dinner table. In one of her more scathing moments she suggested that I would spend my life alone after successive girlfriends rejected my advances once they had observed my lack of finesse with the tools for eating.

It's true that other women have also felt the need to criticise my handling of a knife and fork. There was one former manager who also was critical at a lunch at work too, I recall her saying "that's just weird" in front of my colleagues.

And now I wonder whether or not I didn't somehow know I'd found true love as I can't recall my partner ever commenting on this characteristic.

I've been thinking about this because the other night I had a dinner with colleagues in my new job and at one point I became self-conscious of how I was holding my fork.

It always seemed silly to me to have to struggle with holding my eating utensils when the dinner table usually requires one to also focus on one's companions, while trying to keep up the obligation to converse and also hopefully enjoy the brief sensation of flavours before they begin the process of turning to shit.

In my mind making music is as fundamental to life as eating and the enjoyment gained is usually in the brief moments of inspiration while a piece takes shape, rather than the process of digestion and the result being delivered.

Similarly, obsessing about using tools appropriately ends up killing much of the creativity and enjoyment in most activities. Being self-conscious takes you out of the moment. And, as time passes, those moments only become more precious.