Forgive, Forget, Move On Part IV: Group Dynamics and Forgiveness.

Seattle Tai chi qigong
By Brian Kidd

This morning I was listening to some rare interviews with John Coltrane. The thing that struck me most about his voice is that he sounded so much more mature than his age. He was only about 30 in one interview, but sounded like he could have been much older. I then remembered the story about Miles Davis punching Coltrane in the stomach once because Coltrane was using heroin. Davis wanted to punch some sense into him, although Davis dabbled in that drug as well.
Despite the historic punch-to-the-gut, Davis and Coltrane, of course, remained good friends until Coltrane’s untimely death in 1967. In fact, they continued to work with and admire each other throughout the 1950s.
Being a musician myself, I have seen how demanding and thankless the music industry can be, especially on the musicians that often do not get the recognition they deserve. This can really take its toll on a person’s soul and try one’s patience. I remember asking jazz local Jazz drummer Matt Jorgensen if he ever thought about quitting music and he quickly replied, “Everyday. It takes a lot of strength and will to continue on…”
Recently I was doing a recording session with Steve at Saturna Studios. Before we even began to record, he was listening to some tracks I made and posted online. He was initially very critical. “This sounds stupid, the way you and that guy work together sounds totally lame because it’s like he just added a bunch of electronic music to it without really thinking about it.”Prior to this, we had been at a local bar and most of the time there he harangued me for my ideas about the album I am putting together, acting like he knew what was best for my music.
At first, I was a bit angry at him and kind of defensive but I did not vocalize my inner thoughts. Then the next song came on. “Now this, this is different. This is good, kind of has a Bauhaus feel to it…” Steve stated.
Thankfully I kept my mouth shut during most of his previous tirade, wrought with seemingly outlandish, harsh judgment about my music. I could have stormed out of the studio with a emphatic, “FU” but instead remained centered and calm, confident in my music and its direction; Even though at times I have absolutely no idea why I even bother making music. It will probably never pay the bills or put food on the table. I guess it’s kind of an addictive hobby. It could be worse, I could be addicted to video games. I never could understand how any person over 20 could play video games all day. Not that I dislike video games, but I just wonder where these people find the time to play them for hours on end. Then again, people could wonder the same about adult musicians like myself. Man, there just isn’t enough time.
Throughout my career as a musician, I have been in numerous ego-testing situations. I have flubbed on stage and had embarrassing moments, been lambasted by band members and criticized harshly be critics. This is nothing new to most musicians. But it can create negativity and resentment in a person’s soul, and even obscure the success a musician has.
As Steve and I sat and listening to the rest of my material, we remained dead silent. After listening to the demo tracks, he kind of looked a bit sorry for his previous comments. I ignored his eyes and just said, ”Well, man, it’s late. We have to record tomorrow. I will see you about noon.(Which in musician time is like 7 a.m.)
The next day we had an extremely productive recording session during which we laid down drum and guitar tracks. I helped him set up the drum kit and all 10 microphones to record the kit. He taught me about how to record drums, and I showed him a couple techniques I use on guitar. We had a few cold ones, laughed a lot about both our mess-ups and recording triumphs (Steve played drums on the track) and needless to say were just plain had a blast. I guess this is why I make music. Oh, yeah, it can be fun.
Steve and I recorded well into the a.m. hours. During the session, we got into a couple arguments and Steve, who is very funny, made a few snide remarks. (One of which was during a melodic guitar complement I was tracking. Sitting right next to me while I was playing, he remarked, “Woah there, Carlos Santana, settle down.” After I was done with the track I said to him, “You said play sexy, didn’t you.” We both had a laugh.)
So this brings us to my final thoughts about forgiveness. You might wonder, what does all this rubbish have to do with forgiveness anyway? It sounds like a bunch of bologna to me. Well, many of us have had to work in groups or with other people. This concept definitely does not apply solely to music (whether in a huge orchestra or just with a partner.) Most people, myself included, have to work with others at their place of employment, usually for 40 hours a week. It can be very easy to gossip and tangle with other people during these hours. My advice, try to stay neutral, do not talk about other people, do not take criticism personally (usually it is a result of the criticizer’s own frustrations) and try to smile and joke around as much as you can, keeping in mind to stay tactful.
When I was younger, I probably would have argued with Steve and maybe even insulted his own music. Heck, I probably would have taken my business elsewhere. I honestly believe that in addition to just getting older, maybe a bit wiser, YiRen QiGong has helped me control my negative emotions a great deal. One thing I like to do in situations where I feel that someone might be trying to attack me, is to start to think more in the back of the mind or the Parietal Lobe. YiRen QiGong instructor Brendan Thorson believes that a great deal of people’s emotional problems lie in the fact that they live mostly in the frontal lobe of the brain. When you connect the frontal lobe with the back of the mind, which is more intuitive, you can feel calmer and more centered. This has been my experience.
YiRen Level III QiGong has truly helped me be able to think more calmly and detach my ego when need be. When you worry too much what others think about you and what you do, it is very easy to become defensive, especially when your ego is fragile or inflated. Level III has helped me recognize the oneness of the universe that we all are part of. I guess the value the YiRen QiGong classes that I am taking now are that they have helped me forgive in the moment, if you will. That way emotional gunk doesn’t build up in my organs and Energy Centers. So in a sense, Level III is like a Soul Filter much like a fuel or oil filter on your car. The lessons prevent buildup.
So after cleaning up and getting off the junk, Coltrane put together his famous quartet that included Jim Garrison, McCoy Tyner and the amazing drummer Elvin Jones. One of my favorite stories was during a set in support of Coltrane’s famous record “A Love Supreme” avant-garde Jazz Pianist Thelonious Monk started dancing around in the aisles. Monk was happy about the success that his former band member was having. Success that the spiritual John Coltrane had earned by being both persistent and forgiving. Although he died at the age of 40, Coltrane reminds us that some of the most beautiful and useful things can be created when people work in groups. Part of being able to do so productively, is being able to forgive those we work with. The results usually end up being very rewarding.

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