By Evan Koons
I’m going to something a bit different in this post. I’m going to tag team it, albeit it virally (which after typing it out sounds kind of gross…but, oh well), with a stranger-who-feels-like-a-friend and world renowned bassist, Victor Wooten. Then, I’m going follow-up with three things we can glean from his gifts about living out the Economy of Wisdom in our everyday lives. With that, take it away Mr. Wooten (that means watch and listen to this, y’all):
So, let’s break down what Victor is saying and playing. How is he moving us to a better understanding of the Economy of Wisdom? No matter where we are on the spectrum twixt Padawan and Jedi, what can we learn about the cultivation of our minds for the life of the world.
Mistakes Will Be Made
Like children learning to speak, we will not get it “right” right off the bat. To paraphrase Julia Cameron from the Artist’s Way, we will be laughably bad at doing anything before we’re any good at all. Case in point, I know a five year-old who calls “Little Caesars” either “Little Critters” or “Little Cheezers.” I’ll admit, even though she’s wrong, there’s something so right about her words…but that’s a topic for another time.
On another note (no pun intended), consider Peter. At one point, his antics cause Jesus to straight up call him the devil. Later, he nearly drowns at his Savior’s feet because of his lack of faith. After that, he hacks off a guys ear like a greaser in a street fight. And finally, if that’s not bad enough, he denies having anything to do with the Son of God three times. The Son of God. Three times!
As we seek to learn and grow in the knowledge of the cosmos and our creator, mistakes will be made. As lifelong students, always in the process of knowing more fully the infinite God, let us approach the stretching of our hearts and minds with humility. We will make mistakes. Let us be eager to confess when we fall short. Let us allow our failures to more fully reform us and strengthen our reliance on God.
Jam with the Masters
We are surrounded by a great multitude of people, their experiences, discoveries, and their expertise. Some we know personally, some through books, manuals, albums, and movies. Others we know through computer screens. Seek them all out. Allow them to come to you. Listen to their lives and stories, read their books, read the books that inspired them. Talk shop and swap stories. Show them what you got. Like Wooten says, have a metaphorical jam session with them all. Literally, play in and with their wisdom.
By the way, have you ever witnessed a jam session? Did it look like a chore or a bore or a joyless, fruitless experience? For the novice caught up in one, I can testify that jam sessions can be terrifying, but they are also exhilarating. They shape us and teach us. They guide us and reveal who we are and what we’re actually capable of. They bring us to another level. They bring all who experience them to another level. To quote Episode 5: a true jam session “sees beyond scarcity and reveals abundance.” Don’t believe me? Just watch!
Do you see the new things you’re learning in life as opportunities to jam? Do you see knowledge as ways to learn more about God and show him more fully to the world? What about the old things you’ve always wanted to learn, but always put off? Maybe it’s juggling or Greek or the fascinating history of the fabled unicorn (which is pretty fascinating). Why are you avoiding time to play and explore?
What about the institutions and classrooms you frequent? What are they to you? Are they just a means to an end? Are they places to freely riff and learn from the riffing of others? Sidenote: did you know that the latin for school is schola, which means “leisure”? And leisure is the lifeblood of every jam session. In that light, school is supposed to be a place to rock out, a place to jam with the masters. Which begs the question, “How are we doing at that?”Are our schools places to jam and improvise and fail forward or they simply places to measure our ability to memorize all the “right” notes? Can they be more fully both?
Remember the Source
What was the song behind Victor’s message? What was the foundational and melodious glue that held his words together? Amazing Grace. Our minds at work in the world, the depth and breadth of the universe itself, is a wild and free gift from our creator. Wooten says, “Music comes from the musician, not the instrument.” Indeed, all our abilities and all that there is to know and make are gifts we receive from the Grand Musician. Recognizing this truth is the beginning of all wisdom. It infuses everything there is and is to know with meaning. It reveals God himself.
In the same way that we discover God’s nature—his depth, his majesty, his mind, his stunning grace—by enlivening our minds, let us also live out this grace as we learn and teach. In our own pursuits, let us be patient with ourselves and our mistakes. Let us be abounding in grace and overflowing with mercy in our failures. After all, we who are broken are being stretched and formed into the likeness of Christ. This is no easy task. Simple, but not easy. It requires massive amounts of effort and sacrifice. We must be kind and gentle to ourselves as we grow in the knowledge of God and our world. Disciplined and courageous, yes, but also gentle and kind, full of grace and mercy. When we steward our minds, we are entering into the presence of the infinite! We are attempting to know more our creator more fully.
This same grace is equally important when we encounter others who are learning. We must seek and remember the source of their being, too: Amazing Grace. Every mind is an image of grace, an image of God. Every mind is capable of discovery. Every mind was made to flourish. Do you believe that? Do you trust that? Will you live into that? When we encounter those who are mistaken, will we be God’s voice of grace and encouragement? Can we be patient with those who fail? Can we act with gentleness and kindness and mercy, and see every person’s potential to know God and his abundant love. Can we see beyond not just another’s hidden faults, but also their willful sins?
To live in this way requires a complete commitment to the Hope we claim: that God is who he says he is, that God is doing all he said he would do, and that God’s amazing grace courses through every heart, mind, and body—and every other thing—in the universe. Only a life of this grace and boundless hope, with and through him, will it be made known. So, start jamming.