Monday, July 19, 2010

The Pot Drips What Is In It

I've been thinking of this as You play what you know, but today, in a Rumi poem, I found a more evocative way to put it:

The pot drips what is in it.

This is true for each of us as individuals, and equally true when we're improvising together.

The pot drips what is in it.

I love doing The Sessions. I love improvising with other people who love improvising. But throughout all the wonder and surprise of playing spontaneous music, with all different kinds of improvisers, one thing is always true.

The pot drips what is in it.

This is one reason why free improvisation is simultaneously so compelling and so frustrating to me. Compelling because it is a gift and a privilege to share creation with other people so openly and intimately - to taste what is in their pot. The act of sharing in this way overflows with creative joy, and power, and boundless energy.

Frustrating because we are sharing this through the act of creating sound together, and sound is physical and finite, contained and created through boundaries and limits. We embody even our most free and open creative intention through the physical act of creating sonic spaces and boundaries...

More on this later. For now here's the poem I read today

The Phrasing Must Change

Learn about your inner self from those who know such things,
but don't repeat verbatim what they say.
Zuleikha let everything be the name of Joseph, from celery seed
to aloes wood. She loved him so much she concealed his name
in many different phrases, the inner meanings
known only to her. When she said, The wax is softening
near the fire, she meant, My love is wanting me.
Or if she said, Look, the moon is up or The willow has new leaves
or The branches are trembling or The coriander seeds
have caught fire or The roses are opening
or The king is in a good mood today or Isn't that lucky?
Or the furniture needs dusting or
The water carrier is here or It's almost daylight or
These vegetables are perfect or The bread needs more salt
or The clouds seem to be moving against the wind
or My head hurts or My headache's better,
anything she praises, it's Joseph's touch she means,
any complaint, it's his being away.
When she's hungry, it's for him. Thirsty, his name is a sherbet.
Cold, he's a fur. This is what the Friend can do
when one is in such love. Sensual people use the holy names
often, but they don't work for them.
The miracle Jesus did by being the name of God,
Zuleikha felt in the name of Joseph.

When one is united to the core of another, to speak of that
is to breathe the name Hu, empty of self and filled
with love. As the saying goes, The pot drips what is in it.
The saffron spice of connecting, laughter.
The onion smell of separation, crying.
Others have many things and people they love.
This is not the way of Friend and friend.

-- Mathnawi VI: 4020-43
Version by Coleman Barks
"The Essential Rumi"
HarperSanFrancisco, 1995

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