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 and 'mistakes'
Herbie Hancock talks about Miles Davis
and ‘mistakes’

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

often find ourselves in a place of frustration and judgement of ourselves, each other, and/or the way life is unfolding. The idea of holding these uncomfortable moments as “something that happened”can seem remote, unrealistic, and sometimes even just wrong!Here in the United States, the political system seems a particularly fraught example of this kind of reaction. Emotions often run high, and the impulse to judge, blame, and make wrong is strong – doing so may often seem like even an imperative.

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.
Not only is the impulse to distance ourselves from these understandable, in a way this focus on judging, blaming and making wrong, works – at least temporarily! By focusing on what’s happening out there, and judging it, or others, or even ourselves as wrong, or bad, or a mistake, we get to keep our attention out there, distracting ourselves from the pain in our gut, shame in our heart, or contraction of fear we may be feeling. But ultimately, unless we bring our attention home to what only we can do to be present to what’s happening in us, we remain stuck in our painful, but familiar, angry or sad or fearful patterns of response.

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.

WHAT IF … like Miles we paused and responded in the most creative way we could access in that moment?
If this isn’t happening organically, perhaps, like Matt Licata suggests in the beautiful and powerful blog this week he calls The Invitation of the Beloved, what’s happening is pointing to something “which has yet to be metabolized within you.”  So if we notice we’re being thrown off our centre, our breath taken away, a clutching in our gut, or what feels like a knife in our heart …

WHAT IF … we chose to use what’s happening ‘out there’ as an invitation to step into and discover (Matt Licata again) “the vast, creative terrain of the unknown”?

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?!

The Realizing RICH Relationships community is a place where we stand strongly for, and suppport each other in, keeping our first (not only, but first!) attention on ourselves. We’re also committed to honouring our humanity, and expanding our capacity for being present to, and changing the ways we relate with those angry, sad, or fearful feelings. The kind of feelings that often wash over and get in the way of our being the curious, creative people we came here to be. If you’re feeling drawn to exploring this more, please give yourself the gift of joining us.

Nurturing juicy co-creative partnerships
…with ourselves, others & life!