Mundane Creativity

Public domain: A book is open, and a pen lies in the middle within the margins.

Henri Mattisse says,

Don’t wait for inspiration. It comes while working.

Whatever you’re creating in the world, keep at it. Even if it doesn’t feel wildly creative every day, a mundane, everyday creativity continues to build, form, and transform.

Renee Roederer

Goo

Image Description: A monarch butterfly, held in a person’s hand. Public domain image.

After a caterpillar spins itself inside a silky chrysalis, it turns into goo. It liquifies inside the cocoon. Between its intricate life as a caterpillar and its intricate life as a butterfly, it is truly a gooey mess. It’s hard to believe that something so beautiful emerges, but this is indeed the messy, mystical process.

So if any part of you feels like goo right now, you might be transforming.

Renee Roederer

Together, Apart

This piece of art really grabbed me. It’s called Flock by Pamela DeTuncq. The description says, “Six teenagers are dressed in identical wool, unprocessed outfits including hoodies and pants. Although there are small differences in clothing — hats, glasses, shoes — they appear as if in uniform. Each of them holds a cell phone in hand, either to their ears or eyes as they are busy communicating with someone else.”

It’s fitting for us as adults too.

Flock by Pamela DeTuncq.

Flock is at the Dennos Museum Center in Traverse City, Michigan.

Majestic

In the morning, I watched lake gulls fly across the sky, and it felt so majestic — the beautiful sight, the sounds of their calls, the calm water, and the cool breeze.

“But to them, they’re just trying to find food. Every day stuff,” I thought.

I know we humans do a whole lot that that could be compared to crapping on cars, also a pastime of gulls.

But if we zoom out, a bet a lot of our every day activities are pretty majestic too.

Renee Roederer

The Sacrament of a Good Question

This morning, I’m sharing words from Farm Church, a congregation in Durham, North Carolina. As they shared this week on Facebook:

When has someone offered a question in conversation that was so lovely, so inviting, and so spacious that it was, to you in that moment, sacramental? Can you remember a time when someone’s curious, non-anxious questioning presence created for you “a glimpse of the almost unbearable preciousness and mystery of life”? (Frederick Buechner’s words to describe the witnessing of sacrament.)

Perhaps some of Mary Oliver’s questions come to you as sacrament, especially that last one…

“The Summer Day”

by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean –

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down –

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

Ope

Image Description: A calendar.

I recently had an away message turned on for my email.

When I went to set that up, I was shocked at how long it had been since I initiated one. (Gmail told me the previous date). As a Midwesterner, let me say… Ope. We should take breaks and unplug from time to time. And… without so much time between.

Renee Roederer

“You Make Me Wise”

Image Description: A unicorn with rainbow hair.

I have a unicorn job.

Actually, the other day, I told a friend that my job is “unicorn squared.” I am so fortunate to have a rare job on more than one front. I don’t intend to share that as bragging, but rather, to say that I’m grateful, and this shouldn’t be a rarity.

My position at the Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan is unicorn squared because 1) every day feels impactful, and 2) this is the best workplace culture and environment I know. I am sincerely grateful for both of these.

But it’s also unicorn cubed: I benefit and grow from getting to know the people I encounter in this position. The other day, I was on the phone with one of our community members when I heard a thought emerge from within me: “You make me wise.”

I am learning from our community daily. Their wisdom adds to mine as I internalize what they have to share. They are my best teachers. I am really grateful for the privilege of knowing them.

Renee Roederer

Jacob Collier Concert (Part 2)

Yesterday, I wrote about my experience in attending a Jacob Collier concert over the weekend, and I reflected on the connection between mastery and play. I wanted to name another aspect of the concert too. I was really moved by his own sense of gratitude about the concert.

I’ve already shared how wildly talented Jacob Collier is as a multi-instrumentalist who writes music in all kinds of genres. He also comes across as so humble and reflective. Right before the finale, he took an extended amount of time to introduce the bandmates that he brought on tour with him, not only mentioning what they add musically, but talking about each one and what he appreciates about them as humans. Lovely. Then he did the same thing about the person who runs the sound. Then he did the same thing about the person who does the lights.

Any manager would likely say, “It’s great that you’re giving nods to them, but shorten that up because you don’t want to lose the momentum before the finale.” But it was that important to him, and it was so classy and wonderful. He also thanked us for giving him this experience.

I loved the music on Saturday. I also felt like Jacob Collier modeled so much. Mastery, play, respect, aliveness, humility, creativity, and gratitude. It just really made me want those things too.

What a great concert.



Mastery and Play

For the next two days, I’m going to write about a concert I went to on Saturday night. Wow…. I saw Jacob Collier live in Detroit, and the experience was magical. It was also so uplifting. I’m going to be reflecting on it for a long while.

Jacob Collier is a musical phenom who was discovered at age 17 after creating several arrangements of songs on YouTube, using his voice to do all the harmonies. He’s also a multi-instrumentalist, totally skilled in every direction, it seems. Piano, guitar, percussion, bass guitar, mandolin, voice, and more. With another person, he also invented this vocal harmonizer that allows him to play keys and harmonize with his voice as he sings. On top of that, he’s a multi-genre composer and arranger. Ten years later at age 27, he’s in the midst of creating a four part album series called Djesse. Those albums include jazz, pop, rock, choral music, electronic music, orchestral arrangements — and you name it.

Jacob Collier is on the shortest list of most talented people I’ve ever encountered personally. And it was a joy to see him live, totally in his element, along with the tremendous band he’s assembled.

I have so much to say about this concert that it will take up two blog posts, but let me start here:

After experiencing this concert, I’ve been pondering something, in particular. There are times in our life when we have developed so much mastery in an area, that it really becomes play. And it’s such a gift to invite people into those forms of mastery-play found in ourselves. Jacob Collier has so much musical mastery that it is exactly that — play. I went to a concert, and I watched someone play creatively for two hours and in a way that invited our own play too. One of the things he’s known for in his live concerts is getting the audience singing and creating with him in the moment.

Most of the concert was his own original music, but he shares that in each location on tour, he likes to improvise other people’s music because it challenges him and “keeps him fresh.” So today, I want to share his live, improvised performances in Detroit of “My Girl” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

Renee Roederer

Sitting With It, Discerning Action

Image Description: A green sign with white writing reads, “Buffalo, An All America City.”

Once more, we are grappling with white supremacist violence, this time in Buffalo. It is a willful act of one, but it is shaped by a systemic, entrenched, violent ideology of many.

I confess that it is one more act of violence that overwhelms us, and it’s easy for those of us not directly vulnerable or threatened — I feel this — to want to look away and become distracted so we won’t have to experience the emotions around it. But many do not have this luxury of choice, and this requires white people to care and act.

So this morning, we all sit with it, and we discern how we are to act — how we are to decry violence like this, how we are to examine the roots of where it comes from, and how we are to deconstruct the ways that its beliefs and biases live inside us too.

Black people deserve to flourish in this country. Black children and Black elders with names, and loves, and personalities, and dreams deserve to go to the grocery store without fear of being mauled by white supremacist gun violence. There is too much vulnerability, and in this era in which we live, people are not just vulnerable; they are often made vulnerable. People with power, and systems with power, make people vulnerable when that wouldn’t and shouldn’t be the case otherwise.

This means that those of us who benefit from the people in power, and benefit from the systems in power, need to use what we have and who we are to stand in solidarity with people made vulnerable.

Renee Roederer