Annie Higgins on flexing her ‘I don’t give a – ” muscle

I’ve been home from my residency at Bordeneuve for a little over two months now, and it literally feels like it happened in another world, on another planet, devoid of time and space. It feels like a time in my life when time stopped.

Back at home in Chicago, I am well aware of time. I’m back to my routines:  working for a contemporary music ensemble called eighth blackbird, teaching a couple of piano lessons around town, songwriting and performing in a Chicago pop band called Weatherman, and trying not to get sad because I have such little time for myself. Somehow my days and nights get booked up weeks and sometimes months in advance. That’s why carving out time to sit in front of a piano for two full weeks felt so other-worldly. My days were blown wide open.

At first I felt the self-imposed pressure of not wanting to waste any time, a feeling I am familiar with as time is such a precious commodity. I quickly realized that this pressure did not work tangentially with the atmosphere I needed in order to create. So instead I swung in the other direction – I went for long walks, tried to take naps during the day, played a little with the rooster, and remembered what it felt like to be free enough to write something bad; to write something without thinking about the outcome. I can’t say I succeeded at that, but I certainly did get the opportunity to exercise the “I don’t give a —-” muscle. I think sometimes my best writing comes when I am not thinking of an audience, a goal, an aim, but am purely expressing something that I think is beautiful. The ability to express that feels as important as breathing sometimes, I feel so connected to it. Yet the world that I live in requires me to live in it, which comes with certain responsibilities that become all consuming. Taking an intentional step away from that world to do what feels most natural was one of the smartest decisions I’ve made in years. I felt as if I was in my natural habitat, when I was at Bordeneuve. Because I felt that way while I was there, there are things that I am desperately trying to integrate into my life back in Chicago, with the hope that I can re-create a similar state of mind. It’s too early to tell how successful I will be–I continue to be pulled in a million different directions; many of which I am excited about. But I feel I have an anchor now planted in the experience of being alone with myself in my natural habitat; with a piano and without a responsibility.

 

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