Don't get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. ~ Bruce Lee
Well as you might have noticed from my earlier blogs I don't discuss music in the traditional sense. I like to examine the underpinnings, the whys and the conceptual aspects rather than the more obvious hows of the mechanics. So this week I decided to delve into the whole right brain left brain concept with a little philosophy and gung fu too!!!
Bruce Lee was not only a Martial Artist, a great deal of his success is attributed to his philosophies which are not unlike those of some of the greatest improvisers. Bruce learned early on that just training his body was not enough. He would find himself tensing up, his mind being clouded during sparring. (sound familiar) He confronted his teacher who replied "relax and calm your mind. Forget about yourself and follow the opponent's movements. Let your mind, the basic reality, do the counter-movement without any interfering deliberation. Above all, learn the art of detachment." So Bruce thought okay relaxation is the key. Only to find himself stressing about relaxing lol. (I too have found myself in that situation, have you?) Seeing his frustration his teacher came to him a second time and told him "Lee, preserve yourself by following the natural bends of things and don't interfere. Remember never to assert yourself: never be in frontal opposition to any problem, but control it by swinging with it." His teacher suggested he take a week to think about this notion. At first Bruce meditated on what he had said and continued to practice to no avail.
Finally he decided to go sailing which is where it all became clear to him. Bruce recalls "On the sea, I thought of all my past training and got mad at myself and punched the water. Right then at that moment, a thought suddenly struck me. Wasn't this water the essence of gung fu? I struck it, but it did not suffer hurt. I then tried to grasp a handful of it but it was impossible. This water, the softest substance, could fit into any container. Although it seemed weak, it could penetrate the hardest substance. That was it! I wanted to be like the nature of water.
I too believe the concept of right brain vs. left brain is central to the issue. Obviously they each serve a purpose and if we only had one side it would lead to either utter chaos or unbearably mundane scrutiny. Luckily we have both and need to learn to foster their power effectively. We need to strike a balance or at least learn a way to access or unrestrict the right side.
Like Bruce Lee's philosophy, Joe is suggesting if you just let go, stop trying to control the outcome so hard, accept your reality, the moment and your environment, your intuitive side (right brain) will kick in and start to generate ideas and respond to the situation instinctively in ways you might not ever have dreamed up. The intuitive right side will process the same information you have been assimilating with your left brain and express it creatively. Joe says for him this kind of open-minded attitude toward playing had its roots in his early ’60s Chicago experience.