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Bill Cunliffe: A Day In the Life

Tish Oney By

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BC: Oh, gee, I can't really do that—every day is different. I try to create a little bit of... you know, obviously, it's a challenge for everyone in life... creating enough time. So one thing I've been doing lately is I've been meditating half an hour a day, and that's been very good. It focuses me on what's important. It's been very good for me. I would define meditation not necessarily as keeping the mind clear—because my mind cannot be clear—I am constantly enveloped and surrounded by stuff, but what you do in meditation is, when you have your eyes closed and you are sitting somewhere, when thoughts come into your mind you just observe them and move them to the side, rather than be angry at yourself for having them. I mean, that happens too... sometimes in the middle of the meditation I will get very angry that I have these thoughts, but I just live with it—I just kind of accept it. And it's really not the end of the world. So that training is really quite good for me, because meditative things are often thinking about one thing at a time. Elizabeth Gilbert had this book, Eat, Pray, Love. Very much relating to her work is thinking about one thing. Another thing that helps with that is physical activity. I try to exercise at least five to six days a week and I try to get some time on the piano—at least an hour a day. If I can do that and meditate and have physical activity, I will be productive the rest of the day.

In terms of what my days are like, I teach three to four days a week at Cal State Fullerton, so those are busy eight-hour days. Fullerton is forty miles away from my house, so at least one day a week I stay down there, and that usually allows me to get more done. I've become more disciplined in my life. In addition, although it's not always successful, I do try to write music every day, just a few bars of something. But, like I said, that has mixed results. I think to have that intention is a very good thing.
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