The moment I saw this video I loved it – there’s SO much packed into it! The text on the first screen – a quote from Miles Davis “When you hit a wrong note, it’s the next note you play that determines if it’s good or bad.”, the mellow music that plays behind Herbie Hancock’s wonderful, unselfconscious story telling of what was happening that night, and the BIG lesson – not only about music, but about life – that he learned.
I hope you’ll click the link – it’s well worth the 90 seconds!
Herbie Hancock talks about Miles Davis
It set me wondering – what was it that allowed Miles Davis to hear what to Herbie Hancock’s ear had sounded like a BIG mistake he’d just made, as ‘something that happened’ and organically responding by playing something that made Herbie’s chord ‘right’?
My first thought was – well, he’s an expert musician, so of course he can do this. At that point he’d been playing and practicing for years. And I do think that’s part of it … it does take time and practice (and most of the the time lots of it!) to develop mastery in responding with the skill that Miles Davis did. As Herbie says, Miles played notes that fit with Herbie’s “wrong chord” making it “right”. That’s a capacity that’s built over time.
Miles’ response of being with what could seem like a BIG mistake in such a creatively honouring way seems so inviting, and yet for most of us, this isn’t generally our experience. What is it that gets in the way of this? Even those of us in the Realizing RICH Relationships community who have a conscious intention to stand for
But if we choose to do as Miles did, and pause for a moment, we might notice that this impulse is being driven by a very understandable human instinct.
The instinct to attempt to protect (or at least distance) ourselves from feeling at least one, if not a combination of all three of the following:
- Memories of painful experiences from our past that we’re being reminded of by something that’s happening now
- Some sense of shame that’s being evoked in us now by what we see or feel around us that we don’t want to be identified with
- A fear of what might happen in the future that we’d rather not have to face.
To be clear, I’m NOT implying that we see our tendency to judge what’s happening as wrong, and so trying not to judge – that’s as effective and useful as saying “Don’t think of elephants!” NOR am I suggesting that we judge our judging as bad or wrong – this just keeps us stuck with or in our old patterns. It’s just that as Miles says, “When you hit a wrong note, it’s the next note you play that determines if it’s good or bad.”
WHAT IF … we saw it (either what’s happening OR our judgment of what’s happening) simply as “something that’s happened”? Just that.
Choosing to view what’s happening in this way opens to us the possibility of making a different choice – to pause, to look inside us, to notice what’s happening, and instead of pushing it away, allow it to be there. And as best we can be present to what’s within us, calling for our loving attention.
WHAT IF … life’s invitation to us really is about seeing each moment from Miles’ perspective of “something that happened”?
WHAT IF … we use this shift in perspective, along with deepening our commitment to trusting that each moment of life is rich with creative possibility, to become more skilled improvisers in life?
WHAT IF … from that place of having paused … gone inside, and attended to those tender parts of us, we then, like Miles, be emboldened to risk being curious and creative in trying out or practising an unfamiliar response?
WHAT IF … even when our best response in that moment sounds or seems like a “big mistake”, we choose to respectfully honour our humanity, and commit to keep on playing and improvising?!