I came home a bit early today and wanted to write. But, as always, as soon as I was ready to sit down and bleed, I felt tired, overwhelmed and good for nothing. I knew it wasn’t even worth trying so I decided to go to the club.
The music was different than it was a couple of days ago – happier! The patrons were dancing and having fun. They were happy to see me and greeted me with cheeky comments about why I’ve come on a Thursday. I felt a bit insecure, ashamed even. What was I ashamed of? Perhaps of the fact that I couldn’t last a week without going slightly mad. No, worse even. I felt guilty for visiting only to get some inspiration. I thought I could just come in and ask Hemingway what to write about.
He looked a lot more vital and joyful than he did a few days ago. As I approached him about to present my request, he said with utmost disgust:
“You smell like work. You smell like exhaustion from work. Go purify yourself.”
The band was playing Naima, which at first didn’t sound like the type of music my women guardians would use for their healing witchcraft, but it wasn’t long before the power and intensity unfolded. I had not planned on staying long. All I wanted was some clarity on what my priorities should be: Knowledge, creativity or love? I can’t do it all, it’s overwhelming.
Soon, I forgot about the plan to go back to my desk and write. I immersed myself in the sound bath, let it cleanse my body and soul. I died a few deaths and the smell of work died with me. When the day’s dirt and worries were washed away, the cells in my body woke up, full of new life. What life? Where did it come from? This is what I was told:
“Pulse is smell, smell is pulse. You can’t have one without the other”.
It felt as if the sound waves were giving a new pulse to all the cells in my body. The cells, empty and dry from work, started vibrating. They were resuscitated by rhythm.
The sound of the saxophone lifted my spirit on its disharmonious spiralling sound waves. None of the sequences, the beats, the notes, were predictable – my mind couldn’t get ahead of them like it does with cheesy predictable music. I trusted that the saxophone would take me where my mind never could. The virtuoso is truly virtuous.
With every new little death, I was filled with joy and the odour of exhaustion disappeared. Joy smells like a well pulsating body. Work smells like a body that’s shrinking. Music is what blows air into that shrinking body. Air is life.
“Now you smell like art,” said Hemingway.
I think I smelled quite funky – of bodily fluids, rain-soaked wood, a book read by an open window, and whisky drunk in an old English pub. Exactly the sort of smell Hemingway would like.
It turned him on: “Stop exhausting yourself! Stop trying to squeeze writing out of that exhaustion. That is not your inspiration. What did I tell you?”
“I am an open wound.”
“Yes! Write like a woman and speak like Baubo – straight from your vagina! Speak the truth about that blood that is a mix of joy and pain. Be vain like a girl, laugh with old women and open that deep, deep throat for men.”
I laughed at the deep throat reference but I knew it came from the mythology around Baubo and had little to do with porn and more to do with women talking about the “unspeakable”, the “down there.”
Feeling truly amused, I was ready to leave the club and go back to my life. Normally, I just leave but this time, I felt the need to thank everyone.
“Just stay mad,” someone shouted jokingly.
The two guardians were kind and wise as usual: “You’re doing it all right, just keep going, keep doing what you’re doing. Keep searching for the truth and speak the truth, write the truth and only love him who will love your madness.”
The last thing I felt I needed to do before finally leaving was to thank John Coltrane himself. I’d never spoked to him before – partially out of respect, but more so out of fear of finding out that I was unworthy of the healing powers of his music.
“I know the music comes out of suffering,” I said and worried he might laugh at me.
“So, why would you want to live a pretty life without suffering when you have this privileged access to truth – to us?”
“I feel unworthy of this music.”
“What if I had felt unworthy of my own music? What if I had decided to feel unappreciated?”
“We wouldn’t have your music. You’ve kept giving.”
“There’s your answer to both the insecurity you feel about yourself, your knowledge, creativity and your work. Stay true and give! That’s your answer!
I went back and wrote this, as it happened. This is not what I had thought I would write on this day. Or ever!