Solving Life’s Mysteries with Chris Assaad
On Sunday I was lucky enough to attend the Soul Sessions event in Sydney. I’ll be posting about this in more detail soon, but for now all I can say is that it was an INCREDIBLE experience and a big THANKYOU to the lovely Eloise for putting on such a great day.
Chris Assaad was interviewed at Soul Sessions (as-well as performing a beautiful acoustic set) and I had the pleasure of having a chat with him today. His music is vulnerable and raw with lyrics that offer much wisdom. Chris has a really interesting story and so much wisdom on life in general. He started out as a lawyer but decided to follow his passion of being an artist and put all of his energy into playing the guitar. He then found out that he was losing his hearing and was diagnosed with a hereditary disease that results in gradual hearing loss.
After a long period of investigation into this disease, Chris opted to have surgery and luckily, his hearing started to come back. It was at this point that Chris, overwhelmed by his ability to hear music again, well and truly ignited his creative fire. The years that followed saw him fall in love with music until eventually he made the decision to leave law behind, follow his dreams and pursue a career in music.
Chris is a gentle soul with much to offer when it comes to figuring out life’s mysteries. Here’s what went down during our chat…
Zoe B: Do you always feel motivated to create? What do you do on those days when you don’t feel like writing? How do you know when it’s time to switch off or to keep pushing through? (funnily enough Chris posted a blog on this exact subject the same day I asked him this question!)
For me it’s about tuning into what I’m feeling and learning to listen to the voice that’s the kindest. If it’s a disempowering voice then I know it’s time to transform and tune into the voice that encourages me and reminds me of all the things I can do and have achieved to this point. Other times, it’s time to rest. Sometimes it might be that we have tapped our creative resource for the day. We all have a well of inspiration that we draw from, and sometimes instead of drawing from this, we need to do the opposite – we need to fill it up. I guess we can’t always be in output mode.
Saying that, I do find that there is so much to learn by committing to a creative path. It teaches me so many lessons like not to compare myself to others of not to be a perfectionist and this reminds me of Dan Hill’s response to the question:
“What do you do when you’re not writing?”
His reply: “Even when I’m not writing, I’m writing.”
You know, ideas take time to formulate and there is an incubation period. We can’t just go straight from having a thought, to creating an output. There needs to be time in between. I think people forget this. They rush.
Zoe B: What’s your creative process?
Chris: Well that depends on what I’m creating. When I’m writing songs it’s very difficult to pin down a process. Songs can materialize in so many different ways! I might hear something or think of something that inspires me and that triggers a song, or I might hear a line that would work well as a lyric. Other times, I hear the melody first or I just get a ‘feeling.’ There is no nailed down process. Some songs pop right out, effortlessly and others, you have to work at. One thing I do believe in is to ‘know when a song is finished’, because as artists our work is never done. There is always something more you can add.
When I write, the process is completely different. This sort of stems from just ‘showing up.’ There’s more freedom. Less variables. All you’re working with is words on a page. It’s like there’s this constant stream and sometimes it’s purely about taking notation. One thing I do notice that really helps my writing is getting quiet before I sit down to put words to the paper. I might go for a swim, or do some yoga or meditate and then try and write…and it’s much easier. Ultimately again, it boils down to a feeling – something needs to be expressed. I think often it’s about getting all of the stuff that is in the way, out of the way so you can express through the channel.
Zoe B: How do you balance working to deadlines with working in an inspired state?
Chris: I think that having a vision is really important. Setting intentions, but being OK with how things show up. I work well with deadlines, the pressure fuels me to move forward. I do think that to be prolific, you need to exercise your self-control muscle and just get things done. And then those times when it’s not flowing freely, then it’s about the practice its-self. Not about the outcome, just doing it for the sake of enjoying the process without worrying about how it will turn out.
Zoe B: Tell me about ‘Creative Buzzkills’?
Chris: They’re everywhere. I came up with that term in reference to teachers who told me I would not be able to do what I wanted to. They stand as a symbol of anything that gets in the way of your creative expression, including ourselves. People are walking around with these wounds from the past where someone once told them that they couldn’t do something. And you know what, in that moment they decided never to do that thing again. We fall into this trap of expecting to be amazing at things right away. Sometimes things take time. We have to learn.
Zoe B: OK this is a big question, but I’ll throw it at you anyway! What is the secret to happiness?
Chris: I’ll start by saying that I definitely do not have the secret to happiness, however I do find myself becoming more and more happy. A lot of that has to do with having a solid spiritual practice because it gives me perspective on what’s important. Also, recognising myself as the artist that I am; I feel like I’ve come home. I’m so grateful. In-fact I feel emotional just thinking about how grateful I feel to be here in Dee Why and to wake up every morning and see this amazing beach. It’s so important to focus on what we do have, just this conversation and the feeling of my heart beating! Nothing is too small. Having people to share with is a big part of happiness too…family, close friends and community. Happiness is really about being grateful for what you have.
You can check out the heartfelt sounds of Chris Assaad at the Django bar in the Camelot Lounge Complex on 30 October, or visit the Chris Assaad website to read his full story.
If Chris inspired you today, share his wise words around!
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