Last night, I dreamt that I decided to do my last remaining Jazz History Classes in my music room at school and get people playing on xylophones. Someone suggested integrating painting with playing Dave Brubeck’s Three to Get Ready and I got excited about it, even though it was raining inside my music room and the xylophones were getting wet. Well, you know how dreams are.
A second dream had me writing a Blog post using the metaphor of the goalie on a hockey team stopping the puck from scoring as a reminder of intense political alertness around the Republican shenanigans. Again, seemed brilliant at the moment and less so in the waking hours.
Earlier that day, I had talked to my friend Kofi about the Ewe’s people (in Ghana’s) notion about where music comes from. He spoke about it as a message from the Divine (as did Jon Baptiste in his Oscar speech!) that often appears in dreams. For people not too overwrapped in Western rational and material clothing, this is a common understanding. That messages from the “other world” are constantly sent in both our night dreams and our day dreams and if we’re intelligent enough to pay them some mind, our lives will be richer and our purpose will be clearer. I often blame “I-think- therefore- I am”- Descartes for this overemphasis on the rational conscious mind at the expense of the intuitive sub-conscious mind, but here’s a startling fact: That phrase came to him in a dream! As did many scientific breakthroughs to scientists thoroughly trained in abstract thought, who took an idea to the limits of that human faculty— and then the subconscious dream life took over and presented the double-helix image of DNA’s structure as a gift from beyond.
If this feels too far off the radar of your daily life, here’s a more practical thing to consider. When I first read Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, I was curious as to how one knew which ones were dominant in one’s own way of perceiving, understanding, expressing the world. For while I understood that all were necessary to each other and all of them lived within each individual, it was clear that one or two rose to the surface and led the way. As a music teacher, one would assume that the Musical Intelligence was my forte.
But one of the hints is simply this: What goes on in your head when left on its own? Walking in the park, are there songs playing? Are you noticing the shapes and colors of trees and bushes? Are you thinking about the ratio of pines to cypresses or calculating distance by blocks walked times rate of speed? Are you obsessing about last night’s conversation when your friend said something confusing or instead, noticing your biorhythms and current emotional temperature? And so on.
And here’s what I discovered. The chatter in my mind is much more linguistically-based, thinking of how to poetically express something that has to do with the soul’s purpose and/or human community. (Making this Blog a perfect field into which to sow those seeds.) I’m hardly ever singing a song and certainly not having musical messages coursing through me which I then play on piano and set down on paper or record. In Gardner's terms, my linguistic intelligence leads more than my musical one.
And so that chatter in your mind, the kinds of day dreams you have and the kinds of night dreams you have, have much to do with your unique genius. They are constantly whispering to you their need to be expressed through a human body, mind and tongue, a message from beyond that asks you to pay attention and fulfill your role as messenger. When you combine that attention to your determination to do the necessary work to practice and refine in the crucible of solitude and get it out there in the world in your vocation or avocation, all are refreshed. You, the energies in the other world and the people who receive the message in this world.
So take a moment to tune in to what’s circulating in your mind, what’s coming in through your night dreams and speaking to you in your day dreams. And then ask yourself: “What am I going to do about it?” The world awaits.