Welcome to The Daily Kind, where we help you stay inspired to raise humans ready for anything.
I'm Kirk Wheeler, it's February 23rd, 2021. I'm so glad you're here.
Today is a 3 for 1 deal. I usually take inspiration for the show from a single quote, but the idea that I'll be working toward here is based on three quotes from timeless musicians. Let's call this a mashup, and since there are more quotes than usual, let's get started and see how it goes. Worst case, a failure here will be a seed for tomorrow.
"You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone" -Johnny Cash
"There are no wrong notes." -Thelonious Monk
"I'll play it first, and tell you what it is later." Miles Davis
I know not everyone enjoys jazz.
It took me a long time to fall in love with it.
But when I did, I was hooked. I remember when I first heard the idea that jazz is America's only original art form, and whether that's true or not, may be based on some version of how you define art. What I am sure about jazz is, it's built on improvisation, the same way our lives are.
I studied at the University of North Texas and had lots of opportunities to fail at learning this thing that I love so deeply, not just jazz, but music in general.
My failure at sight singing was so deep that I ended up switching majors and getting a film degree instead of one in music. What I did take away was so many ideas that are still ingrained in me today. There are no wrong notes is one. And when I was thinking about the Johnny Cash quote on failure, that I'd found in my internet wanderings for the show, I began reflecting on what a stepping stone was originally used for, to build the way across the stream or small river.
And what I began to imagine was, the way water flows between the steps and that the placement of the stones really doesn't matter all that much, as long as there's a way across the water. Jazz is like that. It doesn't matter where the notes are placed. All that matters is that they take you across the river of time.
Now this may start to get a bit esoteric, but our lives are the same way. We construct these narratives and versions of ourselves that we think we're supposed to. They're built on structures that we've learned. You might think of how we're supposed to be as music by some classical composer, where if you make a mistake, everyone knows it. Or think about it like a well-designed or well-constructed bridge over that same river, where if there's a small mistake in the design, the whole thing collapses. And many of us build the foundations of our lives, in just this way, I know that there have been many times that I have, and still do, but what if we were more improvisational?
What if we thought about the construction of our path through time, like jazz, there are no wrong notes, I'll play it first and tell you what it is later. We could let the water flow between the randomly placed stones, unbothered by the presence of movement all around us and still make it across just fine.
So what's the takeaway? (Here's all that takeaway jazz.)
How are the humans you are raising holding themselves back by worrying about making a mistake? How can you help them see that their journey toward wisdom is more like jazz, where there are no wrong notes? And how can you give yourself the same grace and model what it looks like to let some things go, knowing that you can play it first and name it later? And if things don't go the way you'd like them to, you can take what you've learned and put the stepping stones in a different place in the water and try again, to make your own way across.
Now, if all this talk about Jazz is creating a curiosity gap that you need to close and you're looking for a record to start with, maybe try Thelonious Monk, Genius of Modern Music Volume One and Two, or Kind of Blue by Miles Davis from 1959.
I hope you find this helpful. Be sure to take care of yourself today. Drink some water. And remember there is no perpetual parenting playbook. We're all learning as we go.
And with curiosity is our map and knowing that there are no wrong notes, we can be ready for anything. So good luck. You've got this. I'm rooting for you.