Whiplash (When Making Music Isn't Fun Anymore)

Just got back from seeing the movie Whiplash. Pretty rough. Brilliant acting, excellent music.  I hadn't heard of it til I watched the Academy Awards a few nights ago and knew I had to see it. JK Simmons is an amazing actor. I have only seen him in roles where he was loving, kind, gentle, sad- all the sweetest sides of being human. In this film he is utterly abusive, cruel, shaming and humiliating his students, ostensibly to push them toward manifesting their potential for greatness, if it is indeed there. The obvious question, does the end justify the means?

I have strong opinions about that due to my own past history. I once lived with a man with that type of personality- a rage-aholic and perfectionist to an extreme. He was the symptom for my self-loathing at that time in my life. It did not make for a happy household and I think took years for my sons to get over (think This Boy's Life)- in truth I think that it's nothing short of a miracle that they have turned out as amazing and functional and healthy as they have. They certainly had their work cut for them.

As for me, I eventually bottomed out on self-abuse (which is really how I see that relationship) and with a lot of work and commitment to myself, initially through the 12 Steps, then (and now) A Course in Miracles and a lot of transformational sound healing work I learned to forgive myself and eventually to love myself.

The gifts that came from that journey are that today I have a wonderful loving open relationships with each of my sons and that my understanding of low self-worth, lack of empowerment, and issues with addiction and codependence have made me a very sensitive healer. In my work, the most powerful thing I can offer to anyone is a safe space where they feel nurtured and free to be the fullest manifestation of who they are for the period of time that they are on the table- whether it is happy, sad, vulnerable, hurting... whatever. The sound and music assist in creating that space but ultimately the task lies with me and the space and intention that I hold and that the client and I co-create together.

So there were gifts. Do I think that justifies how those gifts were realized? Although I am grateful for who I am and where I am today both inwardly and outwardly, no, most definitely not. I think we in the modern Western world for the most part live in an extremely dysfunctional society. There are cultures where people have been raised with love and kindness from start to finish. That is the norm and they produce kind and loving people and I'm sure that their gifts for art, science, music, healing- whatever they may be- flourish in environment where they are nurtured and given permission to flourish.

My friend and master drummer from Senegal, Papa Malick Faye, told us when he was teaching drumming at the center how in his culture when a person has some kind of an emotional or mental break that all the drummers and dancers in the village go to that person's house and they drum for him or her and the women dance for 7 days and 7 nights. After the 7 days the person "has his mind back". There are very specific rhythms for all of the different issues that confront the people and also rhythms for every other event. When Malick was a little boy and was sent to the store, if he took too long his father would drum to let him know it was time to come home. When a person died in the village it was through drumming that they sent the message to all the people. I learned an African lullabye from a village where whenever a child is born the mother composes a lullabye for the child and then teaches it to all the people in the village in case something happens to her or she has to go away, so that no matter who is with the child it will feel safe and comforted.