Last night I watched a documentary on the music that comes from the legendary studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Musicians from around the world have flocked to these studios just to get a piece of the "Muscle Shoals" sound. Big names like The Rolling Stones, Paul Simon, Lynyrd Skynyrd, U2, and Bob Dylan—to name a few.
There is a special energy swirling around that place. Producers, artists, and engineers have carved a signature into the musical landscape using Muscle Shoals as their nexus of creativity. And while this particular city in the American South is certainly unique, what transcends its uniqueness is an ancient pattern of attraction which will remain long after Muscle Shoals fades into the distance. That pattern has been drawn upon by other music studios, like Abbey Road in London, and that's why such studios exude emblematic qualities acquired from years of collaboration, effort, and creativity.
Something in the human heart craves originality. We want to feel as if we are authentic and genuine, and we want to relish in our special form, if only for a temporary time. How many logos and insignias can be called to mind when contemplating the world markets throughout the history of art and commerce? An endless amount. The wellspring of potential is infinite, as are its resulting creations.
The more I dive into the creative process, the more I realize that creativity is actually an act of discovery. Nothing is really created; it is merely uncovered, revealed, shed light upon. The creative product sits there, patiently buried in silence, waiting to be brought to life.
Does direct realization of eternity, which contains the future, somehow ruin the magic of composition, spontaneity, and ecstatic conductivity? No, not at all. The realization only enhances, enriches, and enlivens the chase. There is a comfort in the knowingness that all art originates from the unstruck sound of silence. Yet, there is still a drive to experience firsthand our unique styles, tones, and textures.
How can we deny the originality of Bob Dylan's raspy voice singing his folk anthems, or the soulful outpouring of Aretha Franklin demanding respect for women across the world? What a tragedy it would be if we could not discern the unmistakable pining of Lynryd Skynrd's plea to be a simple kind of man—to be someone that we love and understand.
Spirituality is about embracing our uniqueness, even as we transcend it. There is no evolutionary merit in trying to blot out the ruffles and ridges which make our personalities unique. There is no need to erase the track of our karma as if it never happened.
What there is, is a calling to saturate our finite forms with the fountain of universal bliss. Only then can enlightenment be genuine. Only then can Muscle Shoals and the shores of eternity be seen as One.
Rock, and roll, to the tune of stillness.