"Work hard and you’ll get ahead."
"Save some money for a rainy day."
"You can be whatever you want."
These common phrases provide some practical advice for a person - especially a person beginning their adult life. They are also phrases that may encourage us to hold onto things preventing us from living in a way that is more centered and connected to reality.
Here is a fact to ponder: there are many things we must let go of in life. At some point, we will be called on to let go of everything. In our final death everything must go.
Is there a way to learn how to let go of the things we hold on so tightly? Can we learn how to die while we are still alive? Many times we are forced to let go of things – we may lose a loved one or a job or we may go through a painful divorce. Being forced to let go of things does not necessarily mean that we learn the lesson that presents itself in those moments. We seem to spend most of our formative years learning how to build our lives and how to hang on to what we have built. As we grow older the things that we have built usually fall apart in some way. We are forced to let go of much of what defined us in our formative years. It is in this process of letting go that we most often learn life’s most valuable lessons. Learning to let go is not something that can be taught in a classroom. The pain of the experience must be taken in and internalized then transformed. It is never an easy process to let go of something you are attached to or something you love.
In music, one must spend hours practicing technique and learning theory only to let go of all that knowledge and become a conduit to communicate the raw emotion of the music. It is really all about communicating feeling to the listener which requires technique and theory, but if one is too focused on technique and theory, the feeling will never come out.
So one must let go of something they worked so hard on to give birth to something else. Letting go is a birthing process that is often painful, but worth the pain. This is how we grow.
In the spiritual life we must let go of many things that we have learned in order to better understand our relationship with God. Our relationship must evolve or it will just become a way to satisfy our ego. I believe that this is the lesson we learn from Jesus when he speaks of putting old wine into new wineskins. It is the paschal mystery – the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is something that happens often in our lives if we are open to it. It is also something that prepares us for the final death. If we can truly learn to let go now, I believe we will have a better sense of how to let go, and to look forward to, the end.
As the New Year approaches, I invite you to pay attention to the moments in your life that force you to let go of something to which you are attached. Be patient with the suffering that may ensue and trust that God will transform you into a person that has grown in wisdom and love.
Greetings and peace.
My name is John Calzavara and I am a professional musician and a deacon in the Roman Catholic Church. My life experiences have been enriched by a number of different spiritual writers including Thomas Merton, Julian of Norwich, Thomas Aquinas, Hildegard of Bingen, Henri Nouwen and Richard Rohr. My musical journey has been influenced by such artists as Charlie Parker, Vince Gill, Dave Koz, Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas and Paul Franklin. This blog will share my perspective on the arts and spirituality and how spirituality applies to everyday life. I invite you to join the conversation and express your own thoughts and opinions about the topics presented here. Thanks for taking the time to read and participate. Come back often.
We begin with the topic of creativity.
Creativity is the essence of life and when we do not create it is almost as if we lose the spirit of who we are as human beings. What is it that drives human existence? The pursuit of material wealth, the satisfaction of the ego, or self actualization? While all of these things participate in driving the human spirit in some fashion, I believe there is something bigger driving our species. Have you ever gotten so into something you were making or doing that you lost all track of time? Have you done something or created something and looked back on it with a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment? I believe these feelings demonstrate to us that we have been involved in
the creative process - something that is bigger than our own existence.
Being creative is very rewarding and fulfilling but can often be very difficult. In a society that is results driven, the creative process can be looked upon as too difficult or a waste of time because being creative usually requires patience and a deep process. We have all heard the phrase, “well that’s the way we’ve always done it”? This seems to be a fairly common phrase and one that demonstrates a human's aversion to creativity. Some people seem to be saying, “let’s just do it the way we always have, even if it doesn’t work, because that’s the easy way”.
Creativity requires work and discipline. Not discipline in the sense that we are incredibly hard on ourselves, but discipline in the sense that we keep working at something until it becomes second nature. Saint Thomas Aquinas said, “If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever”. I believe that Aquinas is challenging us to be creative. To do things in our own unique way, not to keep our ships in port forever.
Life in the spirit
John is a professional musician and a deacon in the Roman Catholic Church. His blog will center around the arts in spirituality and how spirituality applies to everyday life.
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