Today was a very big day for me. My 15 month old toddler spent 4 and a half hours away from home for the first time in her life. Although I hoped that she would be fine, I really didn’t know how I was going to do, but miraculously, I managed to use my time wisely and enjoy myself, even if I did wonder about her frequently, (approximately every 1.6 seconds).
And believe it or not, having this space made me think about the Dave Matthews Band. For those of you who have been reading these articles regularly, that’s probably not a surprise, since just about everything makes my mind travel to the DMB zone. You know, that well grooved pathway in the brain that turns tree limbs into a firedancer, and has a special affinity for the numbers 27, 36, 40, and 41.
In any case, the connection that I made this afternoon has to do with the importance of having a “space between” events in order to fully digest them. Just as we need a pause between breaths and heartbeats, we also require an openness or flexibility within relationships, thoughts, feelings, and in general, our approach to life. And when it comes to music, in my opinion, we gain the most enjoyment when the artist is able to leave a separation between himself and his songs. To be clear, I don’t mean that a musician needs to shelter himself or stay emotionally disconnected from his work. In fact, I consider that the best output comes when one is fully engaged, completely vulnerable, and willing to immerse herself deeply in the process. But when the deed is done, then the notes, beats, and crescendos must be set free to find their own way.
Indeed, this is a tall order. Allowing yourself to fall in love with what you are doing, knowing that at some point the fruits of your labor will be ripe, and ready to live on outside of you, is terrifying. Much like sending your child off to camp, releasing a record, or performance, into the ethos requires trust, faith, and an inevitable grieving process. And the goal is to believe that good things will come of your decision to let go, however scary it may be.
And here again, Dave Matthews gets it right. Leaving his lyrics intentionally ambiguous so that listeners can “read in whatever you’re needing to,” Dave creates a space where his fans can project whatever is necessary for them at that time onto his verses. Our lead singer has stated that he rarely listens to his finished products, and that he believes that, like a great painting, his tunes will continue to grow and expand in the ears of listeners. It’s this non-possessive nature that marks a truly talented creative. Instead of closing the lid on his words by assigning a definitive meaning, Dave leaves the big door open, because he knows that in the end, everyone who is meant to, will come around.
Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.
Author of Serendipity and the Search for True Self