Addition and Subtraction.

I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot lately:

Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.
—Michelangelo

One of the most difficult things about being a musician (as opposed to being a visual artist) is that no matter what I do, no matter how I approach my art, I find it impossible to separate myself from my art at any time. Music, like other performing arts, requires a unique relationship between myself and the creative act. No matter what I do, I can’t escape the fact that I am the sculptor AND the sculpture.

I can suspend disbelief during the recording process, reacting to something that exists outside of myself. But even after a session is in the can, the song is still a living and breathing thing. The performer in me needs to be able to perform it to the best of my abilities RIGHT NOW, or I experience an enormous feeling of loss. This feeling has only become more poignant as time passes and my catalog grows.

It’s a constant balancing act on a high wire, every single day. It’s brutal, it’s terribly honest, it’s merciless. And it’s exciting.

As my personal life has grown—my wife and I now have two beautiful children—it stands to reason that things would naturally get more complicated, more difficult. The addition of responsibility would necessarily subtract some measure of freedom from my everyday life. That’s what reasonability seems to shout at me from the mountaintops . . . that the logical progression of life is a battle from simplicity to complexity.

But that really hasn’t been true for me at all. Not as a human, a man, a husband, a father, OR as an artist.

Yes, I have to subtract certain things from my life in order to make room for other things. But as it turns out, the things that I’ve lost really aren’t a part of who I am, and they certainly weren’t a part of my art. Put another way, the things that I’ve added to my life were already there, and were probably there the entire time. I may have never found them if I hadn’t lost some detritus along the way. It makes me wonder what else I can dig out as I continue to balance the equation.

Michelangelo was right after all. I must be inside here somewhere.

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