Jessica Williams, jazz pianist, composer


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Versions of Reality

I just spoke, via telephone, to an acquaintance, a (jazz) musician, who had some pretty wild ideas about where my life was going and who I really was. It was illuminating in some ways to me, because the person who called me had heard—and had helped spread—rumors that had proliferated into story-boards that could have been used as plots for at least five blockbuster movie productions. Such imaginations! And all of them dark and negative.

The story went that I had died, or, if I had not died, that I was in the process of dying in miserable poverty, in constant pain, addicted to substances, and had stopped making music altogether.

As for dying, this has not happened yet. My soul tells me that I have at least 30 years and that it will be spent loving, learning, creating, and living. Poverty? No. I am experiencing a temporary shortage of funds. I am a musician! Since when did we live in opulent splendor? As long as I have a roof, food, water, and my husband beside me, I’ll be better off than two-thirds of the world’s population. This startling fact needs fixing, but that’s another chapter.

And a druggie? I haven’t even smoked one cigarette or had one drink for going on twenty years. I have used medical marijuana as a treatment plan, and it is presently legal in my state. Yes. Notorious druggie. Another untruth.

And pain? We all have pain, we all suffer, and we all die. But we also are capable of incredible joy, amazing creativity, and deep and abiding love. What a wonderful thing life is!

Finally, stop making music? That is an impossibility for me. My husband tells me that my fingers move as if I am playing . . . in my sleep! I have played piano since I was four and will play when I am ninety-four. It is in my blood and bones and body and mind.

I finally told this acquaintance that, yes, I had indeed suffered through a serious back operation and several other mortal illnesses that could have taken my life. But they did not. I had wonderful medical care, and I was determined to become healthy. I said that most illnesses begin in the mind, and that by changing the way one looks at things, the things one looks at may change.

I told my acquaintance that my music was moving in amazing new ways and that, for the first time in my life, I was happy with the way it was progressing.


The construction of false realities is common, particularly in closed systems.

This applies to most inmates in prisons, to most clerical workers in state jobs, to any group whose world view is limited by strict rules and mandates passed down from “higher-ups”. Jazz musicians are particularly susceptible to believing in constructed realities because they often are having so much fun and partying so much that when they hear serious music, they become defensive. They do not hear the truth, but their version of it.

There are no versions of truth, only truth.

One part of our job as true artists, musicians, writers, thinkers, adventurers, explorers, inventors, and creators is to think and feel in ways that often appear odd, eccentric, unusual, or even shocking to people whose lives are limited by “normal” behaviors and thoughts.


Once one completely opens one’s mind to the Universe around them, they become one with the entire process of creation. As stars are formed and galaxies collide, so do humans make a brew out of matter and energy. Our building blocks are the same as that of the stars themselves.

This sounds to many like twaddle. Hoke. Lies.

I do not care for others' opinions, and do not have time to care about rumors, lies, half-truths, and other time-wasters. Like Facebook, I have no time for it. I live a very REAL life.


The secret of creating is in having the courage to do so.

Having courage means that one must seek one’s own counsel always, never that of another unless that person is very wise and very conscious.

Having courage means staying your course even when you are jeered at, laughed at, shot at. It is that serious. It is the Path you have chosen. Perhaps it was chosen for us, but the courage is up to us.

Talent is useless to the tribe without courage.

Accept that there are things you may not know. Accept that there are frequencies of living that you must aspire to reach. And accept that your versions of reality, of truth, may be flawed.

I know that I work every single day to examine the realities I inhabit. I need to know my way.

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