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Learning Freedom in Prison

There is a flow to life, when tapped into, can began to create a downstream type of effect on your daily existence. If you pay attention and look for it, you can notice athletes that have learned to tap into this. A football running back maneuvering with a thread the needle like path, just ever so slightly missing tackle after tackle. As a musician, I am always seeking to tap into this seemingly magical power that conducts movements in songs like an ebon flow of the tide washing in and out of the ocean. One of the biggest things that will pinch this off and shut it down is over thinking it.

A number of years back, my brother, I and a few others went into prisons to perform concerts for the inmates. One of our bandmates was a saxophone player named Mike. When it came playing the sax, Mike was a master at going with the flow. Mike and I would go into these musical interludes between lyrics with no plan but to just let it flow. It never failed, every time we left and were headed home I would be overwhelmed with what had taken place. Perfect, unplanned compositions of letting ourselves go downstream. I couldn’t have reduplicated any of it because I couldn’t even remember exactly what we did. But it was beautiful.

My personal theory after years of playing, was that it was easier to experience freedom in our music in prison than anywhere else. We were in the middle of a bunch guys that were looking at that moment in time as one of their only opportunities to experience freedom. It was a freedom fertile ground that swept everyone in the vicinity up into it.

It took me years later to began to understand what it takes to remove the distractions long enough in my day, so to allow the downstream living to take hold. It also began to be apparent how much art imitates life. Said another way, your creative outlet, not matter what it is, imitates life. That being the case, starting each day slow and quieting my mind relaxes my ability to let the gentle guidance of my intuition began to work. “There’s a rock, just flow around it.” “There’s a tree across the river, just slide under it.” I have lived the opposite of this way for years and know with out of doubt, you can change and learn to do this. You don’t even have go to prison to do it.

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