Honesty was the topic of my lesson today with Alan. Honesty, having many interpretations in our language, is just a word Alan used to describe a mysterious and powerful state of existence.
We started with the word groove. He asked me what groove is. After some thought, I told him it's a relationship. I was thinking about a bass player and drummer creating a pocket. Without two people, there would be no relationship. No groove.
With an affirming handshake, he then asked what is a relationship? I said that a relationship is communication. Looking back on it, I think a better word would be "interaction". It's more of a broad description, encompassing the inanimate, and the ignorant. An intelligent interaction, however, becomes communication. We're more concerned with intelligent interaction anyway, so perhaps it doesn't make a difference.
Not surprisingly, the next question is "what is communication?". I had trouble thinking of it in broad terms. I wanted to come up with something that encompassed all varieties of communication. Verbal, physical, even chemical. I settled on the word listening.
Alan mentioned how far I've come with my listening skills. He pointed out that my particular growth in this realm has afforded me a particular sensitivity to listening. And he's right. It's become incredibly important to me.
Alan asked me what else goes into communication. I had trouble figuring out what to call "it". There's the listening aspect. but what is being listened to? I decided to broadly define that as "directing". One could direct ideas in the form of words, pheromones, or a high-hat. It is clear that communication a) requires two entities, and b) at any given point, one of those entities is "sending", and the other is "receiving".
Alan described an even deeper level. The mysterious and powerful force underlying groove, relationship, communication, "sending/receiving". That force is honesty. We, as humans, have made up all sorts of ideas about honesty. We say things like "moral code, integrity, truth". With all of these ready definitions, it was hard to come up with something original when Alan asked me what the definition of honesty was.
"A freedom of prejudice and bias..." was my response (the "..." being, like my improvising, a superfluous ending to my phrase). How can something be free of prejudice if we have an entire life of experiences with which we (inevitably) relate it to? The answer lies in our guts. Opening one's self to an impulsive, gut response. Alan says (paraphrasing) that he "prefers the choice that must be made 'now'".
Impulses can be dangerous, though. Our entire conversation began with me telling Alan that I would be moving to New York City in three weeks. One of the first things he warned me about was rushing. He said that when I play music, I have a tendency to rush. Advising me to focus my awareness during this transition, he told a story about his time in wilderness survival training. The first responders to an accident (a dismembering landslide being his example) must first take care of themselves. Again paraphrasing; "If the hero goes to save the dismembered people in a rush, he risks getting hit on the head by a rock and dying. Then the dying victims of the landslide are still laying there looking at their last hope, dead." Perhaps the opportunities NYC is offering me are the "dismembered people", and I impulsively want to rush to their rescue.
Getting back to honesty, prejudice, and guy responses; Alan explained the most important part of impulse; an immediate analysis of the effects of that reaction. Warning that impulses aren't always the best option, he related the topic to a serial pedophile rapist. The rapist may honestly just want nothing more than to hurt a child. But is that going to be good for anybody?
I must make decisions by trusting my intuition, but maintaining a filter that protects me (mostly) from horrible mistakes. I'm starting to understand the importance of that filter. Some people have a very thick filter. Built out of the prejudice, idealism, and fear; some will simply never challenge their safe existence. I need to analyze my tendencies when it comes to filters and impulses, and check whether or not that is something that reflects my goals.
Being more aware of one's filter, I gather, is the most important aspect of decision making. Aside from actually making a decision and acting on it of course.
I have the opportunity to travel far, and create a wonderful and resourceful existence. I could jeopardize that potential by rushing in. I could also jeopardize it by not making fast and intuitive decisions. Life, I am beginning to understand, is largely about that balance.
About that groove.