Detach From Attachment

Detach From Attachment

Bigger the backpack slower the journey. Whatever your journey is, what you put inside the backpack will affect your mobility and freedom. One of the enemies of a man of creative endeavour, attachment, as often the case with most difficult obstacles we face, is the result of us playing mind games with ourselves.

I find that the best way to illustrate the notoriety of the attachment is to picture it as a monkey sitting in the backpack we carry wherever we go. Not only it is heavy, but boy, does it ever stop to talk. Monkey mind on our back. We need to train it.

Travel light in all realities.

I see the monkey taking four different, but similar guises and often a combination of them:

Monkey 1: Attachment to results

This monkey has us refraining from taking action as we feel we are not capable of producing desired result. Simply rejecting the need to produce a particular result, even the need for quality output gives us freedom to blunder, laugh and learn from it, as well as move on. It’s the wisdom of letting go. The moment we let go of attachment to any particular (good or bad) result we start getting better outcomes as we tend to give the best of our ability when we are relaxed.

What will happen if we don’t train this monkey?

We may never start creating, as we are never ready to match reality to our mind’s eye concept (or fancy desire more likely). Also, we may never finish what we start, as wherever we are we can see the final product but are somehow unable to get it to the final perfect stage. We end up with a lot of unfinished work that just weighs down on our sense of own ability to finish.

How to train it?

First of all stop giving a shit about outcomes. They will always vary, to get to quality we need the quantity which will smoothen our abilities as water softens rock over millennia. To get the quantity we need to do the work. The importance of showing up regularly and engage in our craft can’t be understated and is put into beautiful words by a hugely inspirational writer Neil Gaiman here.


Monkey 2: Attachment to gear

All tools are created as means to achieving another goal, but there are multiple ways of achieving one goal.

The single most important part of the camera is twelve inches behind it.

– Ansel Adams

Consider non-attachment based in the wisdom of oneness of all things. If we are not separate from our gear, ideas or quality can we accept what do we have, as we have it? Stop looking for more. Examine the relationship with each piece of gear as if it was your child and see how much attention you gave each of it to grow. How much genuine attention instead of expectation that it will deliver without you putting the work.

With our limited capacity we’re best to limit our attention to a narrow circle of chosen, well examined pieces and really become one with them, where we feel we could open a fish tin can with a sound of the synth we’ve been using for years (or with it’s mod wheel for that matter).

What will happen if we don’t train this monkey?

We’re going to collect more and more software, equipment and props, one trick ponies etc. to broaden our ability. In fact it’s a paradox, as it dilutes potentiality, we have more options and less mental and physical capacity to make use of all that stuff to ITS, and that is our, maximum potential.

How to train it?

One great way of fighting attachment is self-imposed limitation. Here you can check more about practical methods of doing it.

Monkey 3: Attachment to ideas

Less ideas we generate more attachment we create to them. Imagine having one idea and ditching it. What are you left with?

Whether working alone or with other people not being able to quickly shuffle and abandon ideas will slow the process down. In fact, it can altogether shut it down and immobilise the creative process. Especially if we identify ourselves with our ideas and while co-operating are emotionally attached to them, any criticism of it or a vote for change affects us personally.

What will happen if we don’t train this monkey?

We’ll be retaining a lot of mediocre ideas instead of keeping only best ones. Also, instead of perfecting one idea we create a bunch which we don’t go on refining. As a result the whole of the project feels very rough and shaky.

How to train it?

It’s in the wisdom of abundance that we can trust that there’s always more great ideas to come up with. We need to practice decision making and a habit of finishing work with only a handful of selected ideas. Years back the limitation of recording on tape meant we always had to commit our recordings. Unlike today, with DAW infinite multitrack recording and undo, we could not go back on our choice and effectively we became better at making decisions. Try working on a session with 4-tracks only and undo function disabled. Make extensive use of your DAW’s punch-in and overdub features. If you are a photographer you could resolve to never finish a shoot without one strong piece of usable material.


Monkey 4: Attachment to quality / subjectivity / aesthetics

It’s a mongrel monkey that exhibits traits of all the monkeys described above. We don’t start/finish because we don’t have the ability/gear or we’re attached to an idea that’s beyond our current reach that’s linked to a subjective perception of quality. The fact is only we know of what the final aesthetics is supposed to be and with infinity of tastes of those who will be exposed to our art we can’t possibly think that the one we have in mind is the one and only that will resonate with all. At the same time, because nobody can ever know what we had in mind it doesn’t even matter if what we ended up with is not exactly what we wish it to be, purely from the aesthetic point of view. The message is in emotion that’s superior to form and speaks louder than form itself.

What will happen if we don’t train this monkey?

We’ll go on to travelling the journey from the finish line toward the start line. We’ll invert the flow of progression, which is the most optimal for nursing our art, chasing technical proficiency with our expressive ability underplayed rather than to discover complementary technology as we go creating.

How to train it?

If you want to become better artist concentrate on becoming a better person. Practice feeling and empathising. Search for emotion in what you are doing.

Ridding attachment needs courage and breeds courage. May I go and take my own advice. Amen






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