Every chord has a root note.
Heart-swelling melodies and mind-altering key changes can be architected off that root note.
As a matter of fact, whatever you can pull off in context of what you are playing, can work with that root note.
A “wrong note” is simply one that doesn’t seem to blend and co-exist well with the root of what’s being played.
When we talk about living a balanced life, we make ourselves the root note.
We seek to divide our time, attention and energy among the things important to us.
Not too hot. Not too cold. Just right.
Not too much. Not too little. Just right.
Not too this. Not too that. Just right.
But what if we are not the root note?
If we are not the root note, we are no longer the center around which everything in our life should be arranged.
And this changes our role and relationships.
Instead of being the foundation around which everything else aligns, we become part of the “everything else” and find ourselves faced with aligning with some source outside ourselves.
This can create considerable tension in our lives.
Unless, of course, we can find a way of blending and co-existing with the root note—which essentially means harmonizing.
Harmony is a beautiful idea and metaphor.
It’s about co-existing and blending with something bigger than ourselves (while staying true to the voice we’ve been given).
It’s about creating beauty in tension.
It’s about adding depth and texture to the root note.
Nothing surprises or delights our ears like simple or advanced harmonies.
If you are an artist, you are not the root note. Your culture is.
If you are religious, you are not the root note. God is.
If you are a parent, you are not the root note. Your family is.
Balance separates. Harmony blends.
If you are willing to give up some control, you can create beautiful harmony with others and the world around you.
I encourage you to find a root note for your creative life—something much bigger than you or your work—and align yourself with it.
Open hearts. Blow minds. And leave balance to the gymnasts, acrobats and accountants.
From May 2012 to July 2013, I wrote a weekly series of intimate essays for writers and artists seeking a deeper connection with their identity and place as modern creatives. I called this series Root Notes. This was an essay in that series. It was originally published on March 10, 2013.