I feel like making a list of ways to be more childlike is ironically a very adult thing to do.
Before encountering this thread, I was just listening to Googol Bordello, and one of the lyrics in one of their songs is “I never want to be young again.” And I totally get that. My memory of childhood is not exactly a rosy one – I was emotionally pretty troubled a lot of the time, frustrated and bored. I feel like maturity brought insights and tools to make life better (along with, of course, more responsibilities, losses etc.)
But I do think a sense of wonder and delight, “beginner’s mind”, is a great thing to cultivate.
Some advice I’ve seen about that which I like:
- Reserve judgement, or at least negative judgement. Leave yourself open to possibilities.
- Be aware of “storytelling.” Your assumptions and beliefs and “knowledge” are all stories about the world, and some of them are wrong. Consciousness is a story your brain is telling in order to justify its experiences. You can tell different stories.
- Give things special names. Today is Hot Slow Lemon Cake Thursday, and the particular odor I smelled a while ago is Tangefunk.
- Pretend. Isaac Newton is in my head (again) asking all kinds of questions about modern life and science and technology. Right now he’s really curious about the tumbler I’m drinking water out of. It’s clear plastic and has double walls and a sort of viney red and black graphic print, and I filled it with clean cold water from the tap, and that is all just super mind-blowing to an eccentric genius from 1727
Haha! I suppose it is!
I like those ideas. I try to accept and incorporate things I’ve picked up along the way in my process. Idioms or axioms or maybe maxims (I’m not sure which) that have nothing directly to do with music, like Kerouac’s “first thought = best thought” for example.
I was listening to Alessandro Cortini being interviewed on Hanging Out With Audiophiles earlier and the way he dismissed any kind of criticism regarding hoarding gear was brilliant. He essentially said that he always treated making his own music (as opposed to commissioned or collaborative music) with a devotion to play and children very rarely just play with one toy or want to own one type of toy.
Like Starthief, I’m glad to not be a child anymore and it took a lot of work on my part to get out of that unhealthy place. The way forward was knowledge, which is more or less the opposite of innocence.
That said, I think a key to beginner’s mind, “innocence” or whatever you want to call wholehearted immersion in a moment, is in what used to be called humility- remembering that I’m not all that important, that my opinions are even less so, that I don’t have to have a judgement stored up and ready to go in my head, and that ultimately my life’s work is just to live, grow, learn, explore, and bring myself closer to the Good.
Replace “innocence” with “open mindset” and I’m down with it.
I can’t manage beginner’s mind very well because I’m Too Damned Old.
The topic resonates with me and is something I also struggle with. I have a very knowledgeable colleague that is a constant inspiration in this regard as he will almost always ask a genuine and interested question when someone is explaining something. In my line of work there is a strong push to “be knowledgeable”, so a lot of the time people will act as if they understand and then (at best) figure it out later. But being open, vulnerable, and genuine in trying to understand is extremely valuable as it also brings validity and worth to what the other person is saying. And encourages real understanding.
So I try ro practise my “oh, that is interesting. can you explain?” and let my “sure, of course” rest :). I find it gets easier with age and knowledge, actually, since I feel less pressure to pretend to know things…
I feel more free and innocent in my creative process now compared to when I was getting started in playing and making music as 10-15 years old or something. I have gained confidence in what I make and I don’t think that much about if something I make is ”real” or how I could make something ”real” and so on. As a kid/teenager I wasn’t really in the place of making something of my own but trying to imitate my influences. I’ve released three albums now and with each I feel like I’ve gotten closer and closer to making music purely for myself. If expecience leads to coming to a halt it’s a bad thing, but to me experience has led to more skill in getting new ideas and cultivating them. So the Picasso quote in the opening post of taking three years to emulate but a life to learn to paint as a child rings close to my heart, as it has taken me a long time to feel original in my creating and it has come through me making my own small musical universe where I ask questions to myself rather than looking outside and saying ”I want to make that too”.