Balancing The Thrill And The Still

There’s a growing movement of “still” that seems to be sweeping the world, and in this I’d include a number of blogs and books and other projects around minimalism, meditation, and generally living simpler, more spiritual, more conscientious lives.

I’m all in favour, I’m a student of such movements, and follow many people who are doing great work in these areas.

What I’ve always had a struggle with personally is balancing the still with the “thrill”.

Many times I’ve felt I would love to give away all my possessions, go live in a shack in the middle of some remote woodland near the mountains, and spend my days walking, writing, cooking, eating, meditating and sleeping.

It honestly sounds utterly blissful. But…

image: prgibbs

There’s another part of me that needs the opposite. A part that needs excitement, and stimulation, and new inspiration, and to feel breathless and alive.

For me a good analogy of this still/thrill dichotomy is music.

I have a stack of minimal ambient records from the likes of the original pioneers Brian Eno and Harold Budd, to more recent artists such as Labradford, Stars Of The Lid, Brian McBride, Hammock, Eluvium, Windy and Carl, Loscil, and Japanese artists like Susumu Yokota, Takagi Masakatsu and Ryuichi Sakamoto.

I adore this music and spend hours on end plugged in with it gently washing through my ears and kissing my the inside of my thoughts like a great warm healing ocean.

But I also love the noisy boys.

Like Mogwai, Trail Of Dead, My Bloody Valentine, Jesus And Mary Chain, Mastodon, This Will Destroy You, Xinlinsupreme and many others. Those sensualphysicalemotional sounds that actually make your spine tingle and your heart race and cause you to catch your breath.

I wouldn’t want to give up ANY of these records.

For me the thrill makes you appreciate the still more, and vice versa.

Having the choice and the luxury of being able to experience both, in my music collection, and in life in general, is essential.

In creating too, sometimes we seek to create something that will calm, that will touch and move people in a tender way. Other times we might want to provoke a more visceral reaction, to motivate others to question and challenge themselves, or take up their creative tools.

So what I’ve concluded is that I won’t be selling up and heading to my shack in the woods in the forseeable future.

Neither will I be living a hedonistic life of constant stimulation and raw excitement and unrest.

I’ll try to enjoy both, and for the most part happily settle somewhere in between.

How about you? Which do you have more of in your life and your artwork, the thrill or the still?

Would you like to bring more of one or other into your life and work? What are some of the ways you could you do that?

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