Break to Heal

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We must break to heal.

This thought initially started in a conversation with my dear friend, Doctor Carlos Wolf, who is a renowned facial plastic surgeon in Miami. I have always been fascinated with surgery – cause unlike most other trades – they cannot undo or erase their work. A facial plastic surgeon less so than most. Their work can never be hidden and is always on display. I have seen several videos of surgeries and to a layman, they split me in two. A dualism if you will. The first part is gruesomeness. It is painful to watch a full facial lift, removal of tissue and all the procedures. Yet on the other side it can be an incredible art form with a stunning end-result. So the thought began. The surgeon has to break the body to heal it and I think that notion applies to most other areas of life? The fruit trees and rose gardens must be pruned to the stub.  We have to break the muscle tissue to grow stronger in workouts. The purpose of nightmares is for the brain to traumatize itself and thereby strengthen its ability to withstand trauma. It seems like a universal law. Everything must break to heal. But how does it apply to our invisible art form? Music.

It took Beethoven over 4 years to write his 5th Symphony. A frustrating ordeal of eternal revisions and pruning the music down to its most elegant form. Those four notes: “Da, Da, Da, Daaaaahhhh”. Not like Mozart who wrote the Overture to Don Giovanni on the morning of the premiere day, supposedly with a massive hangover. Or Paul McCartney who famously wrote: “Yesterday” by scribbling down notes from a dream in less than a minute.

Such anecdotes can be dangerous – as they rarely represent reality as a whole. The reality for most artists (in any trade) is that a great piece of art takes a painful amount of revisions to create. All encapsulated beautifully in this quote by Shostakovich: “A creative artist works on his next composition because he was not satisfied with his previous one“. Music can be particularly elusive since we cannot see it and yet it is very effective in pattern generation. We get entangled in our own patterns. Spellbound by the safe chord progressions that we and everyone have been using for centuries. Familiar territory.

But what novelty ever came from repeating ourselves? Innovation requires us to venture into the unknown and fail. It has to be uncomfortable at times. Scary. It has to make you question things. Question yourself. It has to make you overcome and expand your self-made loops of repetition. You have to break yourself. Unbind the knots of your patterns.

Now this is where it gets complicated. It also takes time. It rarely happens overnight. It takes functional procrastination. Frustration. Everything in the darkest bags of psychology. When you practice an instrument the improvement of muscle memory doesn’t kick in until later. When you exercise your body the muscles must first break down. Roses pruned to nothing and a season to grow them again. It takes time to innovate. Rewrite. Overcome. Yet time can also be abused. Excuses. Self-pity. Negativity. Procrastination. Paralysis by analysis.

I think there is a healthy and unhealthy way to break. The healthy way is the conscious way. When we realize we must break to heal and have the methods of doing so. The unhealthy way is the unconscious way. Caught in our own web of invisible loops. No means of solving our own labyrinth. Everything becomes a spiral only going downwards. A vicious cycle to be repeated.

I realize this might be the strangest way of wrapping up the year for 8Dio. But in some way this notion of: “Break to Heal” is the greatest, philosophical gift, I have received this year and I wanted to pass it on. It applies painfully well to instrument development too. Pain is the fertilizer for growth. It is the true teacher – perhaps more-so than endorphins, awards, sugar, applause, credits, recognition and all the other wonderful thrills we seek in life.

There is no day without a night. No shadows without the light. So embrace your pain and make it bright!

We must break to heal.

Best, Troels

Ps. Read this article if you deal with writers blogs!