Yesterday, I thought a lot about restraint . The word conjures up images of safety (a vicious dog held fast on a strong lead). And control (the two drink limit, refusing the last piece of chocolate cake), and also a masterful channeling of energy.
In music (sorry to always return to music), a single phrase can be carried by strong energy not expressed. Does that make sense? If one uses everything up in the expressing of a phrase of music, or a line of writing (a frequent comment to new writers is that their work is “overwritten”) then it can sound, or read, weak because all of the energy has been expended in one rush.
In the days when I still played music, on exquisitely rare occasions, I would get a sense of sitting on top of the most immense power or force. I no longer had a body or mind. For a moment, I would dissolve into the sound. The line of music, or the aria would be invariably be simple, but so immense in what was left unexpressed. Great music (of all kinds, not just classical) seems to generate this power. Watching a brilliant movie, standing in front of an amazing piece of art, staring into the eyes of someone you love, or reading a great book can also help dissolve the body into another world.
And that surrendering of our bodies, is surely part of wild abandon.
Let’s face it, it’s fun to give up control. In all art forms, wildness is exciting. I like to imagine the creative force as something a little wild and difficult to control, and flighty, and whose trust we must earn.
We walk a line between the two, don’t we? Some of us leaning towards the restraint side of the divide, others dancing on the wild side. I like to jump from one to the other personally. There’s joy in both.
Which side has your vote? Restraint? Or wild abandon?