I wanna share with you guys a funny story that happened this week that taught me a lesson about how unnecessarily I’m capable of stressing out about things and how much meaning I make up in my head sometimes, even now, at this advanced player stage of my repatterning.

A couple weeks ago, my co-writer Maddox (who gave permission to share this story) sent me a new arrangement of a song we’d been working on. Maddox is amazing to work with and I have been constantly floored by how easily we write together, but for this one song, I was contented with it as it was and Maddox didn’t feel it was quite right yet. I had been having unrelated stress and anxiety that week anyway so my body was already in a bad emotional place when I received it, and my autistic resistance to change kicked in hard. I listened, but it felt impossible to separate what I genuinely felt didn’t work from where I just wanted to listen to the same familiar arrangement that had already created a comfortable neural pathway for itself in my brain. I wrote back honestly with my concerns but said we should chat about it, and reminded myself that it’s just music, and it would all work out.

We talked the next day, and Maddox kindly but firmly stood his ground on his preference for the new version. He told me he’d worked on it with a producer friend of his, and that they’d agreed it solved some concerns they’d both had. I suddenly made up a story in my head that somehow I was being excluded from the creative process, that songs I’d be releasing as an artist were being rewritten by a person I’d never met, and my tone got scared and defensive.

“Arden,” he said, “we have to be able to at least listen to new ideas. If you still hate it we can just go back to the original.”

“Oh. Right.” It was then I realized that they were just showing me an idea, and I had perceived it as a mandate. I apologized for my misunderstanding and Maddox was gracious about it. I said I’d listen to the new version on repeat a few times to get used to it, and in the meantime get some A/B feedback from a couple trusted folks, and we agreed to meet up in the studio in a week’s time to figure it out.

I listened to the new track on repeat. There were parts I missed, but there were also new things I liked, once my brain got used to them. I texted Maddox and said I was cool with the new bridge, but that I’d like to chat about redoing the outro.

“Really?” he replied. “But I really like that part.”

I said I’d report back with the feedback and we’d figure it out.The A/B feedback was split down the middle. One person liked the old version and another liked the new one. I arrived at Maddox’s studio, reported the split feedback, and then we put on the track, and I finally got to point at the screen and explain what I liked and didn’t like about it.

“Wait,” Maddox said. “I think maybe we’ve been arguing about two completely different parts of the song. Were you talking about the new chord change here?”

“What chord change?” I asked. “I was talking about how you moved the whole bridge?”

“I did? Where was it before?”

“The whole bridge is right before the outro now.”

“Oh. I thought you were talking about the chord change on the bridge.”

“There was a chord change on the bridge?”

We listened back to both versions, wrote out the arrangements, and figured it out in less than ten minutes.

Yall. We had not even been talking about the same part of the song.

I tell you guys this because if I am capable of making up that much catastrophizing about the bridge of a song, with a co-writer I already trust and work well with, I can only imagine where else I’m making up crazy ish in my head that isn’t real.

I bet about 90% of the stuff we’re stressed out about now isn’t even real. (Aside from late capitalism and systemic injustice and climate change – those are all real. But probably a lot of the other stuff we’re stressed out about isn’t.)

I keep getting told the same message lately – trust in your magick and work on your purpose, everything has already been set in motion, do not attempt to micromanage the universe.

Whenever I start creating unnecessary stress for myself, I would like to remember how much resistance I gave the universe over the bridge of a song, which ended up being about a chord change I didn’t even notice.

photo by Aaron Mann