6.23 Kind of Blue

Healthy food. Restful sleep. Exercise. This is the way I chose to manage to help my fluctuating moods, especially when I'm in a downward slide, which I've honestly been in the past few weeks. Sometimes I forget. And it can be extremely difficult to find the motivation to actually do these three important ingredients to controlling my moods. When in one of these downward slides, the very things that can help are seemingly the first to go. I have friends to remind me, a neuroscientist to talk to that helps me remember and I've got myself. There are times when not even all of this support is enough. I'd like to add one more to this list that I'm stealing from the Sam Mullins Fringe show I saw a couple of weeks ago. His list of things to manage his anxiety includes the same as mine, with an added one of 'do something creative everyday'. Now, I totally understand this one and feel that I'm doing something creative most days. In fact, I know of being away from writing or other things for a few days and it feeling like something is definitely missing.

Regarding creativity, I'm just in a lull with experiencing other people's work. Haven't been reading as much as I should, been surfing on the internet too much, haven't been listening to new music. I've been trying to watch different movies that I SHOULD be watching like The Hunt or Laurence, Anyways, but for everyone of those, I find myself watching The Rock or Terminator 2. Nothing against a good crappy action movie starring Nicolas Cage, but they don't exactly encourage the same level of intellectual curiosity.

For some reason, I got it stuck on my head that I needed to listen to more instrumental music and came across the Miles Davis album Kind of Blue, widely considered to be the best, highest selling and most influential jazz record ever. I know nothing about jazz. I went to a few jazz clubs years ago and honestly found them a bit too stuffy for my taste. Maybe it was just the name that caught me? It's vague and could mean a number of things. To me, it just matched the way I feel sometimes, when I'm feeling kind of blue.

I just had a bad night, one of those crappy ones when the walls are closing in. I was feeling kind of blue and I decided what I had to do at exactly that moment was to turn on this album I had never heard before, lay down on my floor and listen. From the minute I turned it on, I was totally transported. The way it builds, the improvisational aspect to it, the imperfections. I could feel the humanity behind it and to think that this music was not really pre-planned and largely recorded with few takes.

About halfway through the record, a refrain in my brain started ringing: Hold on, just hold on. For the first time in a while, my head just kind of cleared except for these few words. Lots of life stuff and other stuff had been going on and I just couldn't get my brain to shut off, couldn't get it to shut up. The album ended and it's like I came out of a trance. If there's one goddamn lesson I continually fail to understand, it's that at that point where it seems the darkest, where it looks like things have not worked out and there's no place to go, nothing to do but give in and give up, that is the point where you just have to hold on, just hold on because things will get better, they have to, sometimes you think that it's the end, that you've hit rock bottom, but it's not until you actually believe there is no alternative, actually physically feel it in your bones, and know it to be a truth, then, at that moment, you have a choice, to really and truly give up or decide to go that extra step further and see what happens.

This might be my interpretation of what Miles Davis was trying to say in Kind of Blue. He was telling me to hold on, just hold on. Maybe I need to listen to more jazz.