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An open conversation with Alex in Tangier - part 2

An open conversation with Alex in Tangier - part 2

Hey,

I hope you’re doing well! I’m now back in Montreal after spending two weeks abroad in Europe and Africa, which makes me feel a little off-balance in time and space, but it’s good to be back right in time to witness the beautiful colors taking place in our northern hemisphere! Summertime is truly gone now, as it’s literally raining yellow and red leaves all around us…!

It’s Friday morning and I’m listening to a Philip Glass playlist, mixing each and every possible project he did over his entire musical career! I've been listening to his music since Alex bought me a book about him, titled Words Without Music, which I just started reading! I have to get my heart and mind back into creative mode, as we’re on the verge of heading back down to Virginia to join Alex to get started on what will be his next musical journey! I love those moments where we’re all getting ready to gather around music, art, lyrics, noises, screams, whispers, and all this unknown coming to life right before our very own eyes as we simply abandon ourselves to a journey of its own. I truly can’t wait to get started and share some glimpses of what’s happening with you!

I really hope you enjoyed last week’s open conversation I shared with you! That afternoon by the pool in Tangier has been more impactful than we thought it was in the first place, and it brought amazing conversations again between Alex and I as we were traveling back home from Morocco. 

It’s been such a crazy trip back home as we had to take a train from Tangier to Casablanca, embark on a 1:30 am flight to Frankfurt, then rush on another flight to Brussels where we literally had to run across every possible terminal at Brussels Airport and almost missed our connection to Montreal…! They were calling our names over the airport PA, and someone from Air Canada was looking for us with a cardboard with our names on it! We then landed at 1 pm local time, which means it’s been kind of a long day!!!! What an adventure! So yes, plenty of time for Alex and I to talk more in between running sessions! :)

So, today, I have the privilege to share the second part of our pool conversation, which was around this year’s theme; Brighter As We Rise Up Again! Hope you enjoy it!

How did the theme come to your mind this year? 

Every year, I have the privilege to take time apart to reflect on the year that just ended and to envision what may be ahead. It’s a moment of profound contemplative musing, an intimate rendezvous with myself, where I can let my spirit roam free from my usual limiting ambitions and ambivalent decisions. That’s when I usually see the images from which I collect the words… It’s a sort of personal mantra that grows way beyond me and its emotional birthplace as soon as it is shared with others. Some words aren’t meant to be kept to oneself and that’s how I welcome them every year.
 

Why brighter? Can things always get brighter? Or brighter circumstances? 

We tend to define life with absolutes; it’s what we so often find our peace of mind from. It’s what we try to model our existential purposes on. But for me, I don’t really see things that way… Light proves the existence of darkness as much as darkness proves the existence of light, therefore, there’s no need to fear the absence of absolutes nor is it necessary to flee its paradoxes. That’s what makes life an evolving flow of lights and colors; there’s no end to it, only new perspectives and discoveries. That’s what it means to rise up again; to let yourself be transformed by the motion of these unfolded pieces of the unknown, standing just a little closer to the light every time, and everything – including yourself – becomes brighter to your own eyes, more distinctively exposed to others as well, offering yourself and those around an emancipative opportunity to be known and to know others in return.


Do you set yourself some life journey goals or do you simply dwell into the now, always open-minded to seek new horizons and what they have for you? 

It’s funny, a moment just came to mind when a pastor told me, after listening to my diatribe regarding human rights and whatnot: “Alex, you are an activist and activists never find peace but in finding a new battle to lose themselves in.” That phrase, whatever it was designed to mean at that very instant, kept echoing in my head for quite a while… Not that it was traumatic or anything. It stood as a matter of reflection, to the “why” I turned my initial caring compassion into a scream of revendication and to the “how” I could transform my ever-engaging “anger” towards injustice into a sustainable love to be communed. Even if it might sound completely off from an answer to your question, I tend to remind myself of the fundamental difference between having ambitions and following a vision. My nature is deeply ambitious… It’s not about dominance but about pressing on and pressing through. That’s how I’ve been raised or nurtured if you’d like. Following a vision implies trust, patience, and amazement. Ambition stands far in the distance. A vision is cultivated in the evolving “now”. That’s why I can say that I do have goals for this journey of life that is mine, but they aren’t filled with something elusive and illusory; they are in a constant fulfilling motion reshaping themselves a little more each day. This is what I mean by “instinctive” and “ongoing”. There’s no finish line, no ultimate reward at the conclusion of the race. The treasures are made of “now” and the “now” has the purpose of being communed…


An everlasting dawn… Why dawn? Why not an everlasting sunset? 

For me, dawn means new possibilities. No matter what happened the night before, no matter how desperate you are, hopeless, faithless, there’s always a new realm of wonders awaiting to be embraced with every light coming from afar, way before offering their dazzle to every new day. We can make a rebirth out of it all… 


I shared about our friends’ 15-years-in-Tangier party. What was your reaction when you stepped in there? 

I felt incredibly grateful that I had been welcomed, sheltered and healed by the most caring and compassionate people I have ever encountered – or blessed enough to discern – in my life. I was humbled by so many lives that have been touched, moved, inspired, transformed by those two men who believed that it wasn’t through revendications and reforms that you can have an impact in other people lives, but by offering the best version of yourself every single day, acknowledging the fact that most of that love so generously given would never – if ever so rarely – come back their way. Being someone who cares about others, it was greatly evocative for me. It helped me keep my motivation in check and accept that some of those to whom I had given the most of what was necessary to me, devoting the best of my days while sacrificing my own dreams willingly are usually the ones that would break my heart by becoming the most despicable individuals the second I would even only consider think about myself again. As painful as human nature could be, this is something I learned seeing my two friends give themselves to many, while never compromising who they are as persons and what they are as an entity as well. Looking at all the pictures, 15 years of lives being ignited, it was one of the most beautiful displays of pure love I have ever seen in my life (and not only because I ended up being on quite a few pictures featured all over the walls!)


What would you like your 15 years party to be like? 

Honest and soulful, real and communal, filled with laughter and magnificent tears of gratefulness.  


Is it necessary for you to feel completely lost – you or your emotions – before you find yourself again? To be broken before you can be reborn? Is it part of your creative process?

The creation for me is about the degree of willingness I am ready to put in in order to have an honest view towards my inner self and the greater world surrounding me. Allowing myself to be lost means that any potential creation blooming out of a moment, a reflection, or a contemplation won’t have anything to do with me trying to control it all, without my pre-conceptual views serving to cover my fear of failures, forcing my insecurities to it. As much as you let yourself envision ideas or be completely prepared for the invisible to reveal itself beyond what you can’t see, brokenness is not a process. It’s a state of being that, once acknowledged without shame, allows your heart to expand the frame of your mind and soul – therefore the origins from which life and art will be transmitted into words, sounds, colors and lights. Still following…? 


What’s the role of “lights” in your life, and how is it important to you?  

It’s the foundation of it all. Even its absence has a significant part to play in my existence. Maybe we’ll have more time to develop about it next time…! 


You seem to be well established now in Tangier. Do you have a specific vision for the future there?

I’m blessed to be part of an inspiring community of people with whom I’m friends. It changes the whole emotional climate of my life, and it feeds my vision to have a space where life, art, humanity, and collaborations can be shared and communed in a completely free and disfranchised manner. That type of vision takes time as it’s something that blooms from its community rather than something that you can buy and sell afterwards. This is what makes it the purest form of collective entity there is… at least to me. 


You worked with another artist for the design of the SFCC this year. What was your first reaction seeing it? People described it as steampunk or Tim Burton-esque. Is it something you like being associated with?

I had the immense privilege to work with Joe Mruk from Red Buffalo Illustration again this year, our fourth collaboration to date. Joe being the fantastic creator that he is, I try to interfere as little as possible with his own vision, which this time involved a little more of back and forth. It isn’t that I wanted to depart from what we already did together, but I was trying to express the wonderful relational dance that is our connection, to expose the different elements related to our correspondences, and to reflect on the welcoming nature of our communion. There are quite a lot of images and layers of symbolism within Joe’s heartfelt piece of art and what I like, with any of the collaborations I have the blessing to be part of, is to keep on discovering new meanings and different elements to the entity we gave life to through a joint effort. The rest for me remains the uplifting joy that comes with the exploration of self through another person’s embodied vision. It’s always about what we see with our eyes closed, or should I say, it’s about what our heart is disposed to see …
Thank you so much for reading this entire conversation between Alex and myself.  These moments are always so precious to me, and even more now that I can share those with you! 

 

Thank you so much for reading this entire conversation between Alex and myself.  These moments are always so precious to me, and even more now that I can share those with you!

 

IMPORTANT
REGARDING THE TOUR PHOTO BOOK 

As previously shared with you, we are currently working on a post-tour photo book. We already received many pictures and testimonies of all kinds  and I am grateful to everyone who decided to immortalize this very first headlining tour for Alex! 

If you want to be part of the book, make sure to send me your contribution on Saturday, October 15 at the latest. You simply have to reply to this email! 

As Alex shared in his newsletter: “I can’t promise that I will be able to add everything in the printed version of the book, but as I already mentioned, no one will be left out and everything you will send me will radiate in one form or another. I’m already thankful for everything you will be sending my way as it’s what this communion between you and me is all about.” 

I wish you an amazing week! 
Until next Tuesday! 
Take really good care!!! 

Your Friend and Host, 
Jeff

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