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Every Song Penetrates
By Dick Levon - 11/29/2001 - 01:56 PM EST

This column has taken a very long time for me to write. I have hesitated and stalled out coming to a grinding halt. I forgot my first rule in unblocking creativity. “What ever you do, keep moving!” It is OK to move slowly or even hesitate a bit but never stop. I have hesitated and stopped at the edge of the creative “waters” because of what has occupied my imagination since the terrorists’ attacks on the United States on September 11th.

I find it bewildering that so much of human history is written in blood upon the parchment of the suffering of ordinary people. Images too ugly and painful to invite into the mind’s eye. Who could have ever imagined that on that date we would witness such horrifying destruction? I am left with many more questions than ever. I find it overwhelming that such fear and destruction are common to many people throughout the world.

Somebody did imagine that! It is not the first time in human history that such insane and destructive actions have been imagined, planned, and implemented. It will not be the last time. These are very difficult words to write because they are true. But this is not the complete picture.

Several weeks following the terrorists’ attacks of September 11, I received the following email from a client of mine. I found it to be an elegant and healing story.

A Native American grandfather was talking to his grandson about how he felt about a tragedy. He said, "I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is the vengeful, angry, violent one. The other wolf is the loving, compassionate one."
The grandson asked him, "Which wolf will win the fight in your heart?"
The grandfather answered, "The one I feed."

I do not know the origins of this story but I do know that it speaks to something deep within me. It addresses a very profound need. It is a way out of the darkness. The image in the story gives us two ways to go. We can choose either. The choice does not mean that one wolf will die and be extinguished but only one will win out over the other. It is true that what we choose to feed or nurture within ourselves grows stronger. Both exist side by side but one remains stronger than the other.

I can see these two fighting, leaping, and lunging at each other. Twirling in a cloud of dust one is on top then the other. Flashing teeth; hair raised; fiery fierce eyes; kicking and clawing; biting and growling. The bursting aggressive action is a force to be reckoned with.

Imagine that you must choose one. Which one will you choose? How can you tell one from the other? Reach into your pocket and you produce a juicy piece of raw meat ideal for either animal. You must feed one. Which one? Hold out your hand and offer up that meat and the stronger one will get it. Snatch it right out of your hand. Which one is stronger? Which one has been fed?

The archetypal image of the great cosmic clash between good and evil is as ancient as the wind. This image is embedded in the “genetic” code of our consciousness. It has been with us since the beginning. Does such a choice exist? I think it does. I believe we have a choice to either create life or destroy life. This choice is inextricably linked to each and every step we take in life. At each moment in life we may be at a crossroads faced with a choice. That may seem daunting but how else could it be? I don’t know. It is a huge burden that cannot be laid down. This is the loss of innocence like Adam and Eve in the Creation myth. They ate the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Perhaps Eve and Adam were finally freed from the ignorance of their moral naiveté. In fact everything they did had an impact. What is more important is that everything we do has an impact.

I believe that we as humans have awesome power in the gift of our imaginations and creativity. Which wolf does the art we create or songs we write feed? Our creations are not neutral. There is a great responsibility that goes along with the gifts of creativity and imagination. In a most elementary and basic sense I believe that I have a responsibility to create with an intention to do “good”. My intention is to add to life rather than destroy life while being conscious of the potential dark side that can exist within my heart and mind. How clear are you about your creative intentions? How clear are you about your intentions in life in general? I know for certain that there are many aspects of our selves that remain hidden or unconscious.

So many of my artist friends are very conscious and seek to become even more aware of the impact they have on life through their art. Many seek to contribute through their art to their relationships and communities. I encounter many creative people who do not seem to be very aware of how their art and songs penetrate into the minds and hearts of others. I do not believe that they are indifferent. I really feel they may underestimate the power of their art. They play down their personal power to impact life. To say that all songs are important is not grandiose. All songs penetrate into the lives of those who listen. Perhaps even art seeps in through the cracks and crevices of an unguarded psyche.

Imagine that your songs do penetrate deeply into the lives of others. Then they pass that impact on to others, and on to others, and on and on. Imagine that your songs are filled with seeds that seek to fall upon the fertile soil of life. What impact do you most want to have?
What do you want to leave in the hearts, minds, and lives of others?

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