I’m a musician by trade and, until China, music was my only industry. So, now after several years of a truncated career momentum (thanks to having kids – not their fault, just the reality of parenting!), I am proud to report that I am back on stage with my band and there are new song arrangements circulating in my head. I couldn’t be happier about this. Once a person steps back (even temporarily) from a creative career, the primary fear is that the ability to operate within that creative industry might never be restored. As spring unfolds in Beijing in 2016, my general feeling is this: Relief. Music still speaks to me.
I have a special spot in my heart for Beijing spring and it’s the perfect time and place for my current state of mind. Part of my affection is its flash performance – two to three weeks at the most – during which time there’s an explosion of green and color that seems to sprout from nowhere overnight. The flash is what makes it so brilliant. There aren’t weeks of sludgy rain or grey snow-melt that typifies the early stages of a Canadian spring. Instead, Beijing’s sudden awakening holds the same energy as spontaneous good news. If positivity were a season, it would definitely be spring. People are smiling. Sunshine is caramel yellow and new shoots of life are a sparkling, cartoon green.
But my other affection for Beijing’s spring is the fact that it happens at the exact time winter is dragging on too long in Canada. When at the end of March, Beijing’s blossoms on the trees are bulging with their impending burst, I feel a certain gratification about being here that is a rare appreciation for this city’s weather. I congratulate myself for my location. Geography: I approve.
But regardless of where I am, this season goes hand in hand with new decisions, renewed commitment to the hard stuff, optimism. So, it’s in this spirit that I am rebuilding my music website, booking shows, and planning a return to the studio after the longest gap between releases in my career history: five years.
And such a long stretch of time is exactly like winter: it’s a type of dormancy. These green shoots on the trees and these exploding blossoms – they’re symbols of what we are capable of even when we have chosen to spend a period of our lives in this partial state of dormancy for the precious sake of family (or whatever reason).
But, just like winter, this dormancy must end in order to restore the healthy cycle of life. We have to create if we are creators: writers must write, musicians must play, visuals artists must paint or carve or put image to paper in some fashion in order to feel that completed cycle of idea into production. With each piece we craft – perhaps even more poignantly after a long winter of distance – we will be reminded of that intangible power that art once had to capture our passions and dreams in the first place.
And for the parents who are artists like me, I add this: we have now created the most powerful form of art that we will ever know – Life. From here on in, our kids will forever know us to be brave leaders who fearfully risked the permanent silencing of our personal art in order to make sure they came into being. As they grow older and less dependent, the equally courageous return to art-making will teach them yet another important lesson: that no dormancy need ever be permanent. Spring is here. And Beijing’s is particularly breathtaking. Enjoy!