I was recently invited to be interviewed by Judy for an episode of the Finding Your Bliss radio show. We had a really meaningful conversation about spirituality, creativity, music, and the relationship I’ve found exists between them.
As a kid, I was an outgoing, loud, and free-spirited little girl with a big imagination and a magical connection to nature and the spirit of the earth. I loved music and singing.
Rumi said, “When you do something for your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”
Singing was my soul work. It carried me away from the mundane existence of the classroom. It washed out the emotional wounds from the bullies on the bus.
But by my early 20s, after I’d put everything I had into shedding over a hundred pounds (with the perceived promise of instant and unyielding love and belonging), the weight of anxiety and perfectionism I’d developed was a much heavier burden to carry around. The ‘river moving within me’ had all but dried up along the way.
On the surface, my dreams of a career in music were coming true. I’d moved to Toronto to study music at Humber College. I was collaborating with phenomenal musicians, and got my first gig performing in a musical. But underneath, I was in a lot of pain. Everything had become muddled. It was all about what things looked like from the outside: the brand of Amy Pitt.
Around this time, my Nan died. Being with her during her last breath stirred something back to life within me. A second wave of personal spirituality began to emerge.
I read all kinds of books on the wisdom traditions. Buddhism, the practice of mindfulness, and its accompanying idea of ‘not naming’ was particularly impactful for me. Long walks along the lake, witnessing the enchantment of the world when it didn’t carry a label, was powerful stuff.
In hindsight, something inside me trusted that freedom would come if I removed the shackles that my identity as a singer/songwriter seemed to carry—the toxic ego-driven energy that had built up around it over the years…because shortly after graduating and releasing my debut album in 2009, I made the conscious choice to pull off the badge of the singer/songwriter, and essentially leave the music industry.
It was scary. I didn’t know who I was without that identity. But the payoff was huge. It was like unclogging a damn; the magic of my life began to flow more freely.
It was both disorienting and liberating; I could listen for direction and move around without always bumping up against how things fit with the role I was supposed to be playing in the world. This allowed other passions like social justice, (specifically children’s/women’s/and Indigenous rights), and holistic education their space to be nurtured and grow within me.
Looking back now, I see this step as one of the most creative decisions of my life, a pivotal choice that turned me back towards my most authentic self after too many years of walking away.
Since then, I’ve acquired other labels; teacher, writer, scholar, wife, mother. But I now know at my core that to show up vulnerably and authentically from a deeper place, beyond any of those roles, is imperative if I’m to contribute in meaningful ways.
I had never really stopped singing, not completely. I would sporadically write and perform in intimate venues around Toronto, or as part of workshops I’ve led.
But recently, writing and singing music has slowly risen back to the top for me. The undercurrents have led me back to the stage. I was actually set to write and perform a one-woman show for the Toronto (and Hamilton) Fringe Festival in 2020. But instead, due to Covid-19, I found myself at home, parked at the piano, or hunched over an acoustic guitar for hours on end, writing music. A lot of music.
So, after more than ten years, I’m really excited to be recording a second album. The process of writing these new songs has been deeply healing and transformative for me, and my hope is that sharing this music will offer healing and transformation to listeners too.
It’s my experience that in the stories of others, we find ourselves. The universal is found in the specific, and music in particular can connect us in a way that nothing else can.
Near the end of my interview with Judy, she asked me; “What is bliss for Amy Pitt?”
“Right now, for me, it’s music,” I said.
I felt strange afterwards, like the answer had been incomplete. It’s definitely not the only possible answer I could have given.
But I think it’s because for me, when it comes to bliss, it’s not the thing. It’s the thing behind the thing. It’s anything I feel pulled towards by my true self, my most authentic self, or what I choose to call my ‘soul’.
It’s listening to the still, small voice that Ghandi talked about. It’s touching the place where we connect with the infinite and unknowable mysteries (some call ‘God’) with a unique fingerprint.
It’s wading into the rushing waters of that river inside.
Don’t get me wrong; that doesn’t mean taking steps in the direction of my soul has been a journey filled with rainbows and butterflies. There have been dark nights and foggy, dense wilderness along my path.
But for me, bliss isn’t about feeling comfortable or happy all the time. It’s about living a life of meaning. A life of unique purpose. A creative and courageous life of contributing to the world, in ways that only I can.
It sounds simple, but I really do believe that if we all had the courage to show up as our true selves from a deep place of authenticity, the world would be a very different place.
Ultimately, we are all here for a reason. I guess for me, bliss means taking that reason seriously.