For nine days, I had no human interaction whatsoever and no knowledge of the world going on outside my apartment.
I didn't read, or exercise, or do a crossword puzzle. There was one activity:
Music. It would be an extended period of time to work on music without any possible distractions.
So I went to (what might as well have been) Jupiter for nine days.
I got the idea from my friend Danny—a lawyer by day and a screenwriter by night— who did a similar thing recently to work on a screenplay. Danny swore by the experience, saying it was an amazing week in itself, and that the isolation put his mind in this bizarre state that did great things for his creativity. Upon hearing about this, I immediately decided to do it myself and marked off the last week of March in my calendar.
It's just a week, I thought. Why the hell not?
And so, on March 26th, I completely disconnected from the world. It was like putting life on pause for nine days.
Some thoughts about the experience:
- I was truly disconnected—there was no way for me to know about anything that was going on in the outside world other than a local earthquake. And there was no way anyone could have possibly reached me. Andrew "The Body" Finn had a key to my apartment, only to be used in the direst emergency.
- "But," you're thinking, "how did you post a blog entry on Monday, March 30th if you were disconnected with no internet?" Good question. I wrote that entry beforehand and had a friend post it. It was the only option-- there was no way I was violating the "rules" during this week and connecting to the internet, but there was also no way in hell I was neglecting my 10,000th day.
- I was rarely hungry. Around 2pm I'd usually eat a meal, and that tended to be about it. When you don't really move, I guess you don't really get hungry. I lost 10 pounds during the week.
- One of the most jarring things was the inability to procrastinate. I would be working on something and feel the inevitable impulse to procrastinate—except there was no way to do so. The only possible activities away from the piano were eating, sleeping, and looking at the wall. And since I wasn’t usually hungry, and sleeping and looking at the wall are both ridiculously boring, I would just shrug and get back to what I was doing. After the first few days, the normally regular procrastination impulse calmed down considerably.
- The urge to turn on my phone, internet, or TV, or communicate with people in any way, eased too with time. Eventually, I fell into this pleasant acceptance of the loneliness, lack of options, lack of stimulation, and the general simplicity of my existence. This was cool—with the decreased impulses to need stimulation came many fewer thoughts, almost no stress or anxiety, and an unusually high level of clarity in thinking about my own life and priorities. Sorry to get all Buddhist on you, but it was a very new experience for a classic thinker and mover.
- Musically, there were three components—writing music, listening to music to open up creativity, and playing Clair de Lune. Regarding the latter, I haven’t worked my way through the sheet music of a challenging piece since I was about 12, and didn’t plan on doing anything of the sort while in my chamber of solitude. But while leafing through a shelf of music stuff, I came upon the sheet music—my sister had given it to me years ago—and ended up spending dozens of hours throughout the week battling through it. Upon emergence on Sunday, I had it down. This is something I never would have had the time or commitment to do normally.
- As for my own composing, I found myself writing in something different than my normal style. If you’ve heard tracks from my first album, it can be pretty heavy and serious (you can hear it here, and it's cheaper to buy on this site than on iTunes). The style of the week of isolation turned out to be this lighter, almost “quaint” sound. I can't tell you why. But I went with it. I’ve posted two of the better and more complete things from the week below (if possible, listen with headphones since they're not yet mixed for speakers).
- Upon emergence on Sunday, I was pretty weird. I went outside to take a walk and ended up staring at a bush with flowers and bees bouncing around it—utterly fascinated—for quite some time. By Monday, I was back in my office and things returned pretty much to normal. Though it’s impossible to really hold onto the inner and outer simplicity I got to enjoy for nine days, it would be a good goal to at least learn to bring some element of that into normal life.