Chipping away Amadeus

by Jonas Ellison

It’s important to do the work. But it’s even more important, at some point, to let the work go and allow something greater to express.

When we start doing something seriously — be it a craft, or a discipline, or an art — we’re adding to our body of knowledge. We learn and we practice. We trudge through. It’s a lonely road.

Some of us never stop doing that. Forcing it feels good sometimes because it’s usually what makes us ‘good’ in the first place.

But if we want to get beyond ‘good’ we have to then start shedding the layers of what we learned to let something greater emerge and express through us.

We have to do more listening than talking. This is when the magic happens.

It’s when we find we’re not alone in our work. We’re just being used by something else. We realize this was the case all along, but now we’re conscious of it.

This is the flow state.

Mozart worked his ass off. That movie, Amadeus, was — as Twyla Tharp says in The Creative Habit — hogwash. He did not just start playing genius-level piano his first day at the keys. By the time he was 28, his fingers were deformed from so many hours at the keys and behind the pen writing his compositions.

It’s only when he’d chipped away at Amadeus — the student, the learner, the practicer, the worker — that Mozart could emerge.

And that’s when the world paid attention.