Creative Interchange and pop songs

 

Since January this year I go out for a walk every day. I’m living near a little wood and this daily exercise regulates my blood sugar level, makes me less stressful and gives me lots of ideas. Most of the time, while walking at a reasonable speed (6 km per hour), I’m listening to pop music, mostly of my younger days. It struck me that a lot of those songs make me think of the Creative Interchange process. I’ve learned years ago – from books and videos of the late Stephen R. Covey – that one does not appreciate reality as it is; one appreciates reality as one’s mindset allows one to. Since my mindset is Creative Interchange ‘colored’, my thus way colored spectacles see Creative Interchange almost everywhere; even in the lyrics of pop songs, as you can read in the following pages.

Sometimes Creative Interchange is hidden in an expression or a line, at other times in a verse or the chorus. On a rare occasion the whole song brings my thoughts back to the process we’re all born with and to which we should be ultimately committed (cf. Henry Nelson Wieman, ‘Man’s Ultimate Commitment[i]).

 

A song that describes the struggle of being and staying committed to Creative Interchange is Billy Joel’s “The River of Dreams”. In this song the wording of the chorus changes slightly each time it’s sung and the song starts with a first version of it:

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
From the mountains of faith
To a river so deep

Indeed, one has to have faith to commit oneself to live Creative Interchange because living this life giving process is far from easy.

The first verse explains why Billy Joel goes to the deep river:

I must be looking for something
Something sacred I lost
But the river is wide
And it’s too hard to cross

The metaphor Billy Joel uses here to explain the goal of his action is “crossing a deep river, to find what he’s looking for” and what he’s looking for is ‘something sacred” he “lost”. In my mind that “something” is what Charlie Palmgren calls one’s Intrinsic Worth. The second verse digs deeper in the task:

And even though I know the river is wide
I walk down every evening and I stand on the shore
And try to cross to the opposite side
So I can finally find out what I’ve been looking for

Living Man’s Ultimate Commitment (cf. Henry Nelson Wieman’s book) from the inside out is not only far from easy and does need courage; it’s a never-ending story (“every evening”) that demands persistency in action.

Then the second version of the chorus follows:

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
Through the valley of fear
To a river so deep

“The valley of fear” sounds to me as the danger of the Vicious Circle, which has to be overruled in order to be able to stay committed to Creative Interchange.

Verse three digs still deeper regarding what he’s been looking for:

And I’ve been searching for something
Taken out of my soul
Something I would never lose
Something somebody stole

As already pointed out, what’s “taken out of my soul” is one’s Intrinsic Worth that one “would never lose and has been stolen.” That “somebody” is the Vicious Circle. Looking to regain one’s Intrinsic Worth, i.e. living Creative Interchange from within, makes one tired and frustration is looming around the corner according to the next verse:

I don’t know why I go walking at night
But now I’m tired and I don’t want to walk anymore
I hope it doesn’t take the rest of my life
Until I find what it is that I’ve been looking for

Indeed, living Creative Interchange does not equal immediate success. Yoda would say: “May the Force be with you!” In the next version of the chorus:

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
through the jungle of doubt
to a river so deep

The changed line – “Through the jungle of doubt” – underlines the fact that one has to tolerate ambiguity while living Creative Interchange! This is explained in the next verse:

I know I’m searching for something
something so undefined
that it can only be seen
by the eyes of the blind

In the middle of the night

The “Something so undefined, that it can only be seen by the eyes of the blind” is, to me, Creative Interchange itself. This verse makes me think of the end paragraphs of Henry Nelson Wieman’s ‘Man’s Ultimate Commitment’, book that describes Creative Interchange in all its forms:

“I know that I cannot be in error in holding the belief that I am at least partially in error concerning the character of the reality to which I am ultimately committed. Hence I know with certainty that I am ultimately given to what is more than, and in some respects different from, everything affirmed in this book. With this triumph over error I make my last commitment: I cast my error, my failure, and my guilt into the keeping of creative and transformative power.”[ii]

The next verse:

I’m not sure about a life after this
God knows I’ve never been a spiritual man
Baptized by the fire, I wade into the river
That runs to the promised land

This means to me: don’t count on a life after this and the “unbearable lightness of being” resides in living Creative Interchange from within, here and now in order to reach, perhaps, the “promised land”.

The last version of the chorus:

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
through the desert of truth
to the river so deep

Points out that, to find the Promised Land, one has to cross “the desert of truth”. Truth means here, to me, not the truth with a major ‘T’: it means seeing reality as it is. Which makes me think of a famous quote of Marcel Proust, which I used in the introduction of my book Creatieve Wisselwerking [iii](Creative Interchange):

“The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands,

but in seeing with new eyes.”

The last verse closes Bill Joel’s description of Creative Interchange:

We all end in the ocean
We all start in the streams
We’re all carried along
By the river of dreams

In the middle of the night

“We all start in the streams” means, to me, we’re all born with this process; the process Henry Nelson Wieman discovered seeing with new eyes and which he coined Creative Interchange. We all start in the Flow, so to speak, having the Forceto “be carried along by the river of dreams.”

 

An example of a song having a chorus related to Creative Interchange and the living of it is Bob Seger’s “Against the wind”. As you know, and as we’ve seen above, the chorus of a song is not only the most repeated section; it is there where you can find the real meaning of a song. The chorus is supposed to be the most memorable part of the song and is almost always of greater musical and emotional intensity than the verses. That’s definitely the case in “Against the wind”:

Against the wind

We were running against the wind

We were young and strong,

we were running Against the wind

Someone who’s committed to live Creative Interchange is someone who Friedrich Nietzsche calls a “Free Spirit”[iv]; one “who goes against the herd” and “onwards along the path of wisdom” in order to “improve society.” Henry Nelson Wieman calls this the Creative Selfwho transforms the created self towards the Original Selfand in doing so one improves one’s culture. Such a one is definitely “running against the wind.”

As some of you know, I’m still writing columns and essays around Creative Interchange for the sake of my three grandchildren. If life taught me one thing, it is that we have the responsibility to prepare them to be able to cope with the difficulties of life. In other words that they become agile and resilient. One of the side effects of accepting this responsibility is that one will be remembered positively by one’s own kind and therefor will live longer. To me, my ‘end’ task is that I introduce my three grandchildren to Creative Interchange, the Process of Life. Of course, they are at the moment on the one hand too young to grasp the real meaning of Creative Interchange, its conditions and the needed behaviors and, on the other hand, I will probably not live long enough to explain them the process in detail. Therefor I live Creative Interchange as good as I can, use every opportunity to talk and write about it and store my ramblings in the cloud, by publishing them on my own website and on public sites as Slideshare, YouTube. This is also the reason that this particular column will be my last one written on behalf of a lager ‘public’. From today on I’ll only write columns for the sake of Eloïse, Edward and Elvire. I’ve started already and the columns I’ll write in the course of let’s say a year could be published (but will not) as a book with the title ‘Stay Awake!”.

 

A song about helping others to discover and live Creative Interchange is Billy Joel’s “Innocent man”. Let’s take a close look at the lyrics of that song, and I give you some personal interpretations:

Some people stay far away from the door
If there’s a chance of it opening up
They hear a voice in the hall outside
And hope that it just passes by

Which means to me that some people stay away from Creative Interchange and hope that “it just passes by”. They want to stay at the level of their current created self; they don’t want to make it an evolving self.

Some people live with the fear of a touch
And the anger of having been a fool
They will not listen to anyone
So nobody tells them a lie

This explains the reason for their behavior. They live in the cage of their Vicious Circle and do not want to break free; they do not want to listen to anyone, let alone to appreciative understand what others try to convey:

I know you’re only protecting yourself
I know you’re thinking of somebody else
Someone who hurt you
But I’m not above
Making up for the love
You’ve been denying you could ever feel
I’m not above doing anything
To restore your faith if I can

I understand why people can be victim of their Vicious Circle and hide themselves in their closed mindset, the ‘demands and expectations’ frame of reference that they won’t let being changed Charlie Palmgren would argue.

Some people see through the eyes of the old
Before they ever get a look at the young
I’m only willing to hear you cry
Because I am an innocent man
I am an innocent man
Oh yes I am

Indeed, people look through their colored glasses en don’t see reality in a fresh young way. Since I’m not responsible of the fact that the other is prisoner of their Vicious Circle; “I am an innocent man” and “ I’m only willing to hear you cry.”

Some people say they will never believe
Another promise they hear in the dark
Because they only remember too well
They heard somebody tell them before

People who hide in their closed mindset don’t want to believe anything that would rescue them from that mindset, since “they heard somebody tell them before.”

Some people sleep all-alone every night
Instead of taking a lover to bed
Some people find that it’s easier to hate
Than to wait anymore

Those people are not really interconnected anymore with others and therefor Creative Interchange with others has no chance.

I know you don’t want to hear what I say
I know you’re gonna keep turning away
But I’ve been there and if I can survive
I can keep you alive
I’m not above going through it again
I’ve not above being cool for a while
If you’re cruel to me I’ll understand

I appreciatively understand the mindset of the people victim of the Vicious Circle, since I’ve been there too and I know how I survived, so thus know by experience what can keep others alive. “I’m not above going through it again” and help others to discover Creative Interchange. And if the other does not accept my offer I’ll understand.

Some people run from a possible fight
Some people figure they can never win
And although this is a fight I can lose
The accused is an innocent man
I am an innocent man
Oh yes I am
An innocent man

I know the flight syndrome all too well and thus know that “some people figure they can never win” and although I know that helping others to discover Creative Interchange – which is according to the lyrics here “a possible fight” – is never easy, and the risk is always there that I won’t succeed, I’ll go ahead with it, since “I am an innocent man.”

You know you only hurt yourself out of spite
I guess you’d rather be a martyr tonight
That’s your decision
But I’m not below
Anybody I know
If there’s a chance of resurrecting a love
I’m not above going back to the start
To find out where the heartache began

Still knowing that some people won’t leave their cage (i.e. Vicious Circle), if “there’s a chance of resurrection a love” (i.e. resurrection Creative Interchange), “I’m not above going back to the start to find out where the heartache began”, which means fueling the Creative Interchange process, so that the Vicious Circle spins backwards until one is reconnected with one’s Intrinsic Worth; pictured here as the two spinning raders:

Some people hope for a miracle cure
Some people just accept the world as it is
But I’m not willing to lay down and die
Because I am an innocent man

I am an innocent man
Oh yes I am
An innocent man

Living Creative Interchange from within is not a miracle cure, it’s “accepting the world as it is” and “I’m not willing to lay down and die” because of my Vicious Circle. “I am an innocent man” who lives Creative Interchange from within as good as he can; rising strong each time he stumbles and falls because of his own Vicious Circle.

 

Another, more recent, pop song that has a chorus that is, to me, related to Creative Interchange and the living of it is Mumford & Sons: “Sigh no More”. This chorus is even repeated three times, so you can’t miss it.

Love that will not betray you, dismay or enslave you,
It will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be
There is a design,
An alignment to cry,
Of my heart to see,
The beauty of love as it was made to be

Since one of the synonyms for Creative Interchange is unconditional love, you understand that this chorus caught my ear. The fact that it’s repeated three times helped of course. I know from experience that Creative Interchange will a) “not betray you, dismay or enslave you” and that b) “it will set you free”. And although I know that I’m not there yet (and most probably never will be), Creative Interchange helps tremendously to “be more like the man you were made to be” i.e. your Original Self. That Original Self is Mumford & Sons “design”, “an alignment to cry, of my heart to see”. So one has to be aware of “the beauty of love as it was made to be.” Indeed, “Sigh no More”, that’s the way, it’s not an easy path (it’s “an alignment to cry”) and it’s the only path I know. In other words: Becoming a Leader is Becoming Your Original Self [v].

 

Another song of Mumford & Sons is, to me, about the eternal struggle between Creative Interchange and the Vicious Circle. Let me present how I appreciatively understand Roll Away Your Stone:

Roll away your stone I will roll away mine
Together we can see what we will find
Don’t leave me alone at this time
For I am afraid of what I will discover inside

“Roll away your stone I will roll away mine”, means to me: ‘Take of your mask, I’ll take of mine’ or ‘let’s take down the barriers of our Vicious Circle and let’s reconnect with our Original Worth. “Together we can see what we will find”, being authentic and aware we will discover our truth together. “Don’t leave me alone at this time, for I am afraid of what I will discover inside”; let’s continue to stay in creative interchange, since I am afraid what I will discover through awareness. What I will discover are the ‘demons’ of my Vicious Circle and I do not want to face them alone and awareness will make clear that I have to transform myself, which is scaring.

You told me that I would find a home
Within the fragile substance of my soul
And I have filled this void with things unreal
And all the while my character it steals

‘You’ in this verse is ‘God’, thus Creative Interchange (according to Henry Nelson Wieman) and without God/Creative Interchange our soul is a void, which is filled up “with things unreal”, due to the Vicious Circle. “And all the while my character it steals”: the Vicious Circle is deluding us and only Creative Interchange can bring us true happiness.

And darkness is a harsh term don’t you think
And yet it dominates the things I see

We’re unwilling to transform ourselves and although “darkness is a harsh term” for staying in our present state (the created self), we appreciatively understand that this state dominates the things we see. If we really want to transform, we “shall have to pay to pay the price” (of living Creative Interchange) in order to be able “to keep the change” (my preferred quote of Charlie Palmgren).

It seems that all my bridges have been burned
But you say ‘That’s exactly how this grace thing works’
It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart
But the welcome I receive with every start

The singer realizes it seems that God/Creative Interchange is the only real answer, even though it doesn’t make sense to him that he would deserve God/Creative Interchange after all he has done, being prisoner of his own Vicious Circle. But grace isn’t something you earn, it’s given freely, that’s “how it works”. “It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart” refers to the Bible story ‘The Prodigal Son’, which demonstrates that the journey home is long and hard and comes before the joy. The story is about a son who dishonors his father and takes his inheritance and moves out of the house. He ends up gambling away all his money and having to humble himself to go home and beg his father to take him back. His journey home is hard and he doesn’t think his father will welcome him home. “But the welcome I receive with every start”, refers to the welcome of the father in this Biblical story, who gives a feast to welcome the return of his son. This means that after each time we fell, due to our Vicious Circle, we can rise up again; which makes me think of Brené Brown’s book ‘Rising Strong’ [vi]

Darkness is a harsh term don’t you think
And yet it dominates the things I see
Darkness is a harsh term don’t you think
And yet it dominates the things I see

See above for my interpretation of the chorus.

Stars hide your fires
For these here are my desires
And I will give them up to you this time around
And so I’ll be found
With my stake stuck in this ground
Marking the territory of this newly impassioned soul

(x2)

“Stars hide your fires, for these here are my desires ” is a reference to Macbeth: “Stars, hide your fires; let not light see my black and deep desires” showing that the singer is ashamed of his sins and does not want them seen in the light. “And I will give them up to you this time around” meaning that he surrenders to God/Creative Interchange. “And so I’ll be found, with my stake stuck in this ground, making the territory of this newly impassioned soul” meaning that through Creative Interchange one is reborn an has an enhanced passion, which one did not have before.

And you, you’ve gone too far this time
You have neither reason nor rhyme
With which to take this soul that is so rightfully mine

The ‘You’ in these sentences is the old you, prisoner of the Vicious Circle. The ‘new you’ takes over the control of his soul from the inside out through his ultimate commitment to Creative Interchange.

 

In fact, a lot of songs of the group Mumford and Sons make me think of Creative Interchange. It would take many more pages to discuss them all. For obvious reasons I finish this column presenting Awake My Soul. This song is, to me, about wanting desperately to live Creative Interchange, which is far from easy, knowing that a) I can’t live it as much as I need it and b) I’m too often stuck in my personal Vicious Circle, which prohibits my living Creative Interchange. The song starts with the chorus:

How fickle my heart and how woozy my eyes
I struggle to find any truth in your lies
And now my heart stumbles on things I don’t know
My weakness I feel I must finally sho

“How fickle my heart” means to me, I often can’t make up my mind and “how woozy my eyes,” makes me think of how often I felt the pain that has been inflicted upon me through my personal Vicious Circle.”I struggle to find any truth in your lies”: my Vicious Circle has lied that many times to me, so that now I don’t know any more what to trust. “And now my heart stumbles on things I don’t know, this weakness I feel I must finally show”: I’m struggling with the truth that has come out and I must learn to tolerate my ambiguity. If I want to be authentic, I must admit and show, without fear, my confusion and don’t be ashamed of it.

Lend me your hand and we’ll conquer them all
But lend me your heart and I’ll just let you fall
Lend me your eyes I can change what you see
But your soul you must keep, totally free
Har har, har har, har har, har har

“Lend me your hand and we’ll conquer them all, but lend me your heart and I’ll just let you fall”: is about collaboration the Creative Interchange way, this can be seen as Love in the sense of Agape, not in the sense of ‘falling in love’. I need authentic interaction, and through ‘falling in love’ we’ve learned to play the Vicious Circle games.
“Lend me your eyes I can change what you see, but your soul you must keep, totally free”: I can show you the world, I can show you things beyond your wildest imagination, but you have to keep your soul free from me. I can make you see and what you make of what you see is up to you. I refuse to ‘control’ you (from the outside in); you’ll have to control yourself (from the inside out).

Awake my soul
Awake my soul

(followed by the chorus):
How fickle my heart and how woozy my eyes
I struggle to find any truth in your lies
And now my heart stumbles on things I don’t know
My weakness I feel I must finally show
Har har, har har, har har, har har

“Awake my soul” is a plea for Creative Interchange and makes me think of Anthony de Mello SJ’s “Wake up!”[vii].

In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
And where you invest your love, you invest your life
In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
And where you invest your love, you invest your life

We’re body and soul. “In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die” that’s right, and “where you invest your love, you invest your life”. Investing in your life means investing in Creative Interchange: your created self becomes an evolving self, towards the Original Self. In order to do that, the following is necessary:

Awake my soul
Awake my soul
Awake my soul
For you were made to meet your maker

(2x)

Wake up to Creative Interchange, become aware of Creative Interchange, break free from the Vicious Circle and commit yourself to Creative Interchange: “For you were made to meet your maker”, you were made to become the leader you were born.

 

I could go on with ‘Learning to Fly’ by Pink Floyd, ‘Psycho Chicken’ by The Fools, ‘What if God was one of us’ by Joan Osborn and my other songs. Let’s conclude with a wish: next time you’re listening to a song, listen well and do appreciatively understand the lyrics, perhaps they will learn you something about Creative Interchange, like I do.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

[i]Wieman, Henry Nelson. Man’s Ultimate Commitment. Lanham, MA : University Press of America®, Inc. 1991 (Originally published: Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1958).

[ii]Ibid. pp. 305-306.

[iii]Roels, Johan. Creatieve wisselwerking. Nieuw business paradigma als hoeksteen voor veiligheidszorg en de lerende organisatie.Leuven-Apeldoorn: Garant. 2001. p. 13.

[iv]http://www.creativeinterchange.be/?p=972

[v]Moxley, Russ S. Becoming a Leader Is Becoming Yourself.Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc. 2015.

[vi]Brown, B., Rising Strong. New York, NY: Spiegel & Grau. 2015.

[vii]De Mello, A., Awareness: a de Mello spiritual conference in his own words.Edited by J. Francis Stroud. New York, NY: Image Books, Doubleday. 1992.

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