Sample from the Winter 2012 issue of Integral Yoga Magazine
In Love with the Mystery
An Interview with Ann Mortifee and Paul Horn
Ann Mortifee and Paul Horn got married in 2005, reconnecting nearly 40 years after first meeting through their distinctive musical careers. They share a passion for the spiritual journey and consider their lives and music an improvisational journey. Ann’s new book, In Love with the Mystery, led to a musical collaboration between her and her husband that became a CD, which accompanies the book. In this interview, they discuss their creative processes and how they fell in love with the mystery.
Integral Yoga Magazine (IYM): Would you each talk about your creative processes?
Paul Horn (PH): While I’ve had a lot of formal classical training from an early age I loved jazz, which is really the art of improvisation. That art was lost for a long time and then revived under the name of jazz in the 20th century. The art of improvisation is the basis of my music, and to be creative is to be in the moment and if you try to recapture it, you’re in another moment. Any art is essentially an expression of how you feel, of being really honest and exposing yourself without any concern about criticism. That’s the basis of my creative process—to be as spontaneous as I can.
Ann Mortifee (AM): Creativity is the capacity to return to the source, to become one with the Creator and be in the process of creating at the same time. My creative process begins, as Paul said, by being deeply in the moment. For both of us, meditation has played a huge part in that process because it enables us to become still and listen deeply to what is there. Sometimes it’s a welling up of some feeling, an awareness that wants to form itself into words. Sometimes it’s a longer idea that can only be expressed in story, like the ancient shamanic teaching stories or myth stories. My creativity is about my becoming a channel through which feelings, ideas, visions, possibilities, truth, love, wisdom can flow. Can I get out of the way enough of those things and become a flute so that the breath of life passes through me?
PH: The secret is to try to get out of the way. Yes, you have to be there in order to notate the music, to write it down so you can express it through a musical instrument or one’s voice. But, during that process, you have to shut off the left brain as much as you can and just be there, be comfortable enough to trust the creative process.
AM: And yet the right and left brain need to work together because it’s the right brain that gives us access to the moment, but the left brain helps us process what we have just accessed. Years ago, I was reading a book, The Saviors of God by Kazantzakis, and I got to a passage where he talked about the idea that we are walking between two cliffs: birth and death. He spoke about longing to find a word to articulate what we go through so he could help readers through that process. Reading this, I burst into tears because it struck me so deeply in my heart. I was shocked by my reaction and I think that’s the moment I began to fall in love with words. I think that those of us who become artists have this experience of going through life and then realizing that something within us wants to express and that leads us to our purpose here. I’ve had moments when there was something I sensed and that I wanted to articulate but didn’t have the words. And then, in an unexpected moment, the words came through and I felt so blessed by that. That’s when I feel I’m in the creative flow. Energy is flowing past and what gets created is what clings to you. You can’t dictate it or say what’s it going to be. When you are really being creative, you are just as surprised as everyone else.
IYM: How has your life experience shaped your creative expression?…