We don’t know anything. There is a place between here and there, between mystery and science, between staying and leaving, between choice and becoming: a place where most of us do not want to stay very long . . . . “
I don’t remember who it was that first introduced me to the concept of the “Already/Not-Yet.” It was described to me as a spiritual condition, and one central to the Christian faith I hold to. I am already reconnected to God and nothing can change that. That is a fact. But the ultimate manifestation of that reconnection is still yet to come. And in the meantime, I am in the process of becoming.
It is a difficult thing, to live in the “Already/Not-Yet.” It hurts. There are setbacks. Lessons once learned must be learned several times over. Attitudes, beliefs, truths I once held in utmost confidence can suddenly slip through my fingers. Did I ever really understand them? Were they ever really mine to begin with? Do I know my God at all? For that matter, do I even know myself?
And so I wrestle. I wrestle with a faith that finds strength in yielding, that discovers abundance in being poured out, that hides wisdom in foolishness. It is contradiction and counter-intuitive and it leaves me reeling more often than not. In fact, it’s a lot like jazz.
The beauty and the promise of jazz lies in the tensions between the notes that seem impossibly close together. There are places where the ear longs desperately for resolution, for harmony but must ultimately be denied and, perhaps, frustrated. And yet the release of that musical tension, those places where discord yields to something more familiar and pleasing, that’s where the facets of jazz sparkle. If you can learn to lean on those places of tension, beautiful music can blossom. And yet it is a very fine line between a really good jazz chord and just plain wrong.
And all of this seems somehow clinical.
For a long time, I wanted to like Picasso but couldn’t. His abstracts, in particular, went completely over my head. I looked at them and saw nothing but chaos, disruption, cacophony. The last thing I saw was art. I couldn’t follow the logic that took the figures from Diego Velazquez’ painting “Las Meninas” and turned them into something barely recognizable as human. Don’t get me started on his cubist works or his “colour” periods. I was told Picasso was a genius and I tried to believe it. In truth, I thought he was a complete lunatic.
And then I went to the Picasso museum in Barcelona, Spain. There were the stunning student pieces he had done early in his career, and the more conventionally beautiful landscapes and portraits. I immediately recognized these as genius and brilliant. This I understood. This I could recognize and connect to. I could follow the story Picasso told in these works
Then I saw it: “Guitar, 1913.” Epiphany. Revelation. The curtain drawn back. A guitar barely recognizable but it was a guitar. Fretboard. Strings. Bridge. The elements were all there but presented in a way that forced me to actually see the guitar. The shapes and the textures. The shadows and forms. It wasn’t the representation of a guitar, but it was the essence of a guitar, it’s nature. This I understood. This story I could follow. And yes, I decided, Picasso really was a genius.
If you look for order in the abstract, you won’t find it. You have look with different eyes. You have to come to the work with no expectation; let it reveal the treasures it holds. The stories are there, but only if you approach the work with patience. No expectation. No agenda. No preconception. It’s there. It’s subtle. And you may have no idea what you’re looking at until the veil lifts and you’re left wondering how you never saw it in the first place.
Alan Alda once said:
“Be brave enough to live creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and by not quite knowing what you’re doing. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself.”
This is what it means to live in the Already/Not-Yet. This is what it means to be in the place of comings and dreams and in-betweens. It is the tension and release that gives birth to possibility.