And certainly one may pass the myriad tedious hours of their waking moments in silent contemplation, while another may muse for an ephemeral and fleeting instant pressed like a dried flower between the hours of madness and mayhem of our daily work-a-day lives. Inevitably, it is the charge of the individual to determine how much of their precious time, if any, they will dedicate to introspection.
For who is the bigger fool: the soul who lives carefree and halcyon days frolicking in the fields without questioning the benign indifference of the Universe, never daring to gaze into the abject darkness of the abyss that is themselves; or the individual who spends countless hours excogitating the nature of our existence in this vast and unrepentant world, attempting to find a single shred of meaning hidden in the couch-cracks and ass-grooves of mundane life? To me as a self-proclaimed lyricist, an unexamined world is a world not fully appreciated, a world not explored, investigated, discovered. To me, Introspection is not only a gift but a vital and indispensable undertaking that serves as creative food and fuel for my artistic machine. As I see it, Introspection is not a chore but rather a pressing responsibility to myself to investigate the depths of my being for those emotional remnants of bitter experience that I may translate into lyrical form, song. And if exposing myself, my words, my songs to the critiques and critical annotations of the stoic is a necessary by-product of introspection, then by God I am the biggest fool of them all.
Some might ask “how do you translate the jewels and gems of discovery, the naked emotions revealed by countless hours of Introspection into lyric form? How do you transform the language of the heart into word form, into song and lyric? And certainly, I have no easy answers for them; no step-by-step, compose-by-numbers procedure that will manifest the staggering incredibly poignant lyrics that we all search for and hope to be able to write and recite in our short lifetimes. But I do have techniques, pathways that I travel so that I may go about transmogrifying those ever-fleeting emotions and experiences into words and lyric, some of which have proven to be quite beautiful and powerful, at least from this fool’s perspective.
Deconstruction is simply the act of tearing apart a particular circumstance, situation, emotion, feeling, place, memory, idea or word into its barest and most descriptive components. This can be done by attempting to gain a different perspective on something whether it be the viewpoint of another person male or female, of a bug or of a peregrine falcon. Or, one can simply look at a given subject from a different direction looking up or gazing down from a height. Perspective can also change drastically when looked at from a different period of time or era. And while some are capable of undertaking this process in their heads others employ the use of a journal or other form of written expression. But regardless of the method, deconstruction can be an integral tool in the transference of thought and emotion from the point of introspection, to the point of your pen.
But how should one begin this seemingly insurmountable task? Well, the first step is experience. Experiencing a particular circumstance, situation, emotion, feeling, place, memory or idea is likely the most essential component to writing. I don’t mean simply being at that particular time and place where something happens and being present at a given location or situation. What I mean is truly experiencing something in the moment by having full awareness of each of what each of the six senses is experiencing and not focusing on what happened in traffic yesterday or what you might be planning for dinner later. Experience of this variety requires an individual’s full attention and dedication to what is happening right at that moment and no other. And frankly, many people go through their lives, day-to-day, year-to-year not fully experiencing anything! Many are so bogged down by what they’ve experienced in the past, or are so anticipatory and anxious about the future that they simply are not experiencing what is happening in the moment. As Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues expressed it so eloquently, “…with your arms around the future, and your back up against the past…” Living experientially requires the individual to focus on the moment, what is happening right now, especially when it comes to eventually disinterring the details and meat of an impactful experience.
Getting back in practice of living entirely in the moment can be difficult especially in lieu of the fact that we are constantly being bombarded by signals in our environment that tell us to do otherwise. And when I say “back” in practice I simply mean that as children we are more prone to live in the moment, more prone to dance, sing, and celebrate life in the moment. How many times have you seen a child simply dancing about in the grocery store aisles or singing a little song to themselves simply because they feel compelled to do so? Children naturally live in the moment and celebrate life from one moment to the next but as adults, we’ve forgotten how to live so spontaneously. We are constantly being reminded, bombarded by messages that we need to plan for the future, purchase this product or that item that will make us thinner, smarter, more attractive, live longer. In essence, we are forced to not fully experience precious moments because of the supposed importance of future moments, hours, days and years. Sadly, in the act of planning and working to secure the promise and security of our futures we are in imminent danger of sacrificing the only thing we know we truly have within our grasps, our present experience.
Hence the first step to deconstructing experience is making sure that you are indeed experiencing to the fullest. For how can one deconstruct what one has yet to construct? Bear in mind the expression by Robert Herrick:
"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying And this same flower that smiles today to-morrow will be dying."
In one sense, Herrick’s poignant quotation suggests that we live our lives to the fullest and take full advantage of our youths. But I believe Herrick is also making reference to the fact that it is incumbent upon each of us as sentient human beings to take full advantage of each and every precious moment because truly, our moments upon this great big blue ball that we like to call earth are forever and relentlessly ticking away. And because our time here is finite, it is infinitely more valuable and precious, perhaps even more precious than we care to acknowledge to ourselves. What better reason could there be to squeeze the marrow out of each and every experience, each red-fiery sunset, each cool and soothing refreshing drink of water, each cleansing breath of air.
So how do we begin anew, to live like we once did as free-spirited and spontaneous children? How do we experience to-the-fullest each and every glorious moment of each and every day regardless of the self-imposed and cumbersome chains of responsibility that we bear upon our overburdened shoulders. The answer: awareness. Being aware and mindful of our actions can be an effective way of experiencing fully each and every moment of each day. Many people find themselves moving about their daily actions and interactions in a repetitive, mechanical fashion locked into blind daily rituals and patterns. For example, each of us tend to walk at a certain pace regardless of whether we need to be somewhere at a particular time or not. And how many times have you found yourself rushing precariously through traffic despite the fact that you have no where in particular to go? Developing a sense of awareness of our actions and reflecting upon the manner in which we have become accustomed to doing things mechanically can help one to experience each of life’s gifts in their entirety, rather than glossing over them in our hurried and harried way.
Once you have begun to experience absolutely and live with full awareness you have simultaneously begun to paint the magnificent canvas of human experience as well. Deconstruction of the prominent images on your canvas will be immensely more accessible primarily due to the fact that you’ve painted them so much more vibrantly, so much more clearly and with infinitely more detail. Let’s take one detail from one man’s hypothetical canvas and deconstruct it, shall we?
Example 1: A young man in his twenties (we’ll call him John) decides to write lyrics about a girl he knew from years back. He spends some time in deep thought, introspection, thinking specifically about a certain day in June that they spent together having a picnic in a secluded park. He recalls many of the details of the day as if they were yesterday as he often practiced awareness especially when he was interacting with others. He remembered the day as being spectacular and comfortably warm with a single cloud floating precariously across the cerulean blue sky and how birds sung plaintively. He remembered how extraordinarily green the grass was and how a light breeze stirred her auburn hair gently, playfully in the wind. He recalled her wry smile, her sweet mellifluous voice, and a sad longing in her eyes.
John also remembered laying upon his back and staring up at the girl, seeing her face in reverse. He recalled how bizarre the human face appears when viewed in that fashion even when the countenance is that of a beautiful woman. He noticed how the eyebrows became, in a sense, tiny mouths smiling beneath the eyes themselves. And how her mouth looked twisted, contorted in the afternoon sun. John mused to himself inwardly about the anomalies of the upturned visage and smiled.
He subsequently formed some ideas about her and how the sadness that he had perceived within her on that resplendent spring day became inverted along with his vision of her. Words began to form in his head that reflected and expressed his thoughts and feelings on the topic:
In the grass I lay on that Spring dayObviously this is a simple representation of the manifestation of introspection into lyrical form. The scenario above is fictional in nature and is simply intended as an illustration of what is possible when the details of a poignant experience, a contemplation of our innermost thoughts and emotions, are deconstructed and brought to life. Each individual will deconstruct a particular scenario in their own way based on their own experiences and emotions, motives and motivations. Regardless, developing one’s tendencies towards experiencing each individual moment in its entirety can be the ultimate means of achieving happiness and self-actualization in one’s life, as well as an integral tool in creating a rich tapestry from which to draw invaluable information and lyrical substance.
Looking up at the sky
In your eyes the gray and sadness, malaise
Looking off in the green
and I can’t help but wonder as the sky’s torn asunder
that what’s up has taken place of the down
When I picture your face upside-down in my mind
A smile takes the place of your frown
Mark Lincoln M.A.