Bearing Witness to the Tap In
An insider’s view; a firsthand account, the reflections of a story collector, an observation of what can happen when a group of creatives gathers to tap into the current of the creative spirit.
Written by Niki Brush: Liver of Life, Collector of Stories, Teller of Tales (sometimes baker & coffeehouse manager.)
I love the spoken word. I spent tens of thousands of dollars in my mid-twenties to sit in university lecture halls and listen to people talk, philosophize, follow ideas until there was nowhere else to take them, in words no one ever before had thought to arrange them in. I attended poetry readings, author talks, the theater. I talked to anyone who had something to say. Sitting in circles in homes, bars, parks, in every city I wandered. I thought one day maybe I’d stand up at one of the mics and find the courage to share the way I experienced their stories. It never happened, until one Saturday in November at the Creators Space.
In a big push to promote community through the coffeehouse, I planned to host a monthly open mic that would feature the spoken word. Reading my writings was a secret dream of mine, but a paralyzing humility kept me from admitting that. Oooooftah. Remembering the nerves now makes me sick to my stomach all over again. I am sure my voice cracked over and over that first night, but I lived. And not only was it necessary medicine, it was a really good night.
Looking back I can see that the worry was irrational. Here’s the thing about being a self described story collector. It is the easiest title I hold, all I’ve had to do to earn it, is listen. To everyone. Indiscriminately. The unexpected gifts of living a life of listening, is I am surrounded and supported by the most interesting, engaging, passionate, intriguing, open humans on the planet. And it seems that they all showed up that night to give and receive the medicine flowing from the live mic.
Now we host every Saturday Night and from my view it goes a little something like this:
The creative spirit is a constantly flowing current of energy; one of several necessary pathways keeping existence -- existing. All you have to do is tap in. There are infinite points of connection, more outputs than you can imagine. The cardinal singing his morning song from the tip top of the tree on the boulevard out my front porch window – has tapped in. The fiddleheads unfurling after a long winter’s rest – have tapped in. The artist discovering the potential of a piece of plywood to become a work of art to be contemplated – has tapped in.
It’s difficult to imagine a sentient being on the planet that hasn’t at one point – tapped in. Actually, once you grasp the vastness of the creative spirit, it’s easier to list the things that don’t tap in. In my role at Creators Space, I witness a lot of creatives tapping into the energy. It’s electrifying. A jolt. A vibration. Chaos -- in the primordial ooze, endless possibilities, sense of the word. I watch as they struggle to make the initial connection; the sheer power of which could blow you through the wall and into the next studio. It’s hard to trust you have what it takes to endure the journey. But once the connection is made, the artist flows, and the current carries them away as they hold on for the ride of their lives.
On Saturday nights, this metaphor comes alive. I hook a mic up to a single speaker, set a chair down next to the stand, and open it up to the crowd. If you’re seated in the commons, you’ll hear the energy ignite -- white noise when I flip the switch. Sometimes there are five people; sometimes there are twenty. Opening the mic is an essential component of what is to come next. Inviting the gathered to make a connection. Giving permission. A lot of the time it feels like the nerves will never settle, but something ALWAYS happens.
One brave soul -- maybe to cut the awkward silence, maybe to give the people what they came to bear witness to, maybe because they themselves need the release -- whatever the reason, one brave soul will approach the live wire. As they adjust the mic and settle into center stage, they seem to reach up into the chaos of creation, wrangle an idea, pull it close, and follow the spirit as it flows from their vocal cords, out their mouths, into the mic, down through the cable and out the speaker; projected at the audience, for them to nibble at. Inviting them to find the courage to make their connection, take a risk, watch it flow, complete the circuit.
Niki host’s an open mic every Saturday from 5:30-7:00 at Creators Cup Coffeehouse. The event is free and open to the public. Come share your stories, poems, jingles, or thoughts. They all belong here.