Pure Joy

Last week my wife and I attended a magnificent Tanglewood concert. While savoring the music, we enjoyed the big-screen closeups of the various soloists. For the first time, I appreciated the raw emotion driving all of the musicians—from the harpist who looked as if she were about to cry, to the resting flautist’s smile at some inside joke, to the stern concentration of the brass section, to the one cellist who practically slapped his own forehead over some oversight—all of the musicians poured everything they had into their performance. It was breathtaking.

But even they paled in comparison to the raw, over-the-top, explosively pure joy of the conducting dynamo, Andris Nelsons, who led the orchestra in “Throne Room and Finale” from Star Wars, and the 1812 Overture*.

Holy shit, this guy was awesome. Seriously, he could make Happy Birthday kick ass. This barely shows you the exuberance he transmitted that night. During the standing ovation, amidst a sea of enthusiastic but polite clapping, I was the lone idiot whooping it up like it was a Bon Jovi second encore. If I had been holding a beer, I would have lobbed it into the boxed seats in celebration. Seriously—no really, seriously—his energy was contagious. I loved it.

And it reminded me of a fundamental truth: when we bring joy to our creative process, we create joyful things. The more we bring, the better the result.

I’m not claiming that I’m dippy as a four-year-old in a toy store every time I hammer on my keyboard, but as I sit here editing the something-hundredth paragraph, I can tell which days I really enjoyed what I was writing, and the days when I struggled to push like a cheese addict. (Guess what? The latter gets cropped a lot).

But this concert was a good reminder that whatever gets me psyched, jazzed, pumped up, whatever—I need to indulge that when I create, so that what I create melts your face off like an Andris Nelsons performance. Wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

*Complete with cannons, although I think the cannoneer was drunk, because they were a little off beat with the orchestra, but hey, it’s cannons, so who seriously gives a shit? CANNONS!

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