The other day I read an interview with Charles Lloyd, an eighty-four-year-old American saxophone player who is touring Europe at the moment. He also released three new albums this year, each recorded with a different trio. ‘I’ve got experience, but I have a beginner’s mind, and that’s a blessing,’ he said.
That deeply resonated with me. Even though I’ve done many things over the past sixty-eight years I too feel that I’ve only just started. And as time goes by that feeling only gets stronger. Each discovery raises new questions. The list of things I want to explore keeps on growing.
Only last week was I able to feel completely comfortable in a yoga position I’ve been practising for almost nine years. I slid into the position without thinking, my arms and legs found their place by themselves, my breathing felt effortless. My body didn't need my guidance, which had never happened before. And that ‘asana’ can still be perfected.
In my work with artists and art institutions I constantly encounter new ways to improve our collaboration. During one recent online meeting the members of the selection committee found it difficult to choose among several equally promising candidates. But then we decided to schedule another online meeting two weeks later so that each candidate could explain how they plan to use the grant if they were to receive it. That turned out to be an excellent idea because from those conversations, it became clear who would benefit most from this opportunity.
When I read the pieces I wrote twenty years ago, I see some appealing images and promising ideas, but they lack elaboration. I didn’t allow myself the time each piece required because I wanted to write so many pieces and do lots of other things as well. I’m calmer now and better able to focus, which makes for tighter and more precise writing. Even so, I feel that I haven't even started to untangle the complexities in the world and in my head.
It’s as though I’ve only been scratching at the surface of life and I’m becoming more and more aware of what I don’t know. Perhaps that is what Charles Lloyd meant with the blessing of a beginner’s mind.