We have lots of stories about inclusion but after watching this video you’ll wish ‘you could have been there’ for this one.
We each have something priceless, a ‘thing we do’… that we take for granted, often unable to recognize its value or worth to others.
Some of us can create a gourmet meal out of bread crumbs and leftovers, or see the potential in an old ramshackle house and turn it into a mansion, or enter a pig stye and tidy and clean it as if it were our own, or sit, listen and stay with someone who needs to download their grief or the gripes, or keep a secret and rebuild broken trust, or hug and hold and carry a deeply wounded person, or just be there for that broken soul when all seems lost.
Most of these actions of love go unheralded. Rarely do leaders or public speakers applaud the many actions of unconditional love by ordinary folk on a day to day basis. There is no big story or answer… just lots of little conversations.
I don’t have too many of the qualities mentioned above… neither do I have an abundance of silver and gold… but I can sit and strum and sing for hours to someone who needs a little peace. And regarding this small thing… I am slowly learning that, in a way, it’s my contribution to the community around me.
A story of escaping the prison of professionalism after finding love inside the music.
Like a coal miner’s son I was born into a trade and a tribe that I would serve, through good times and bad for the rest of my days. They’d bury me with my guitar and my union card.
I had a dinner suit for the bigger clubs and casino shows, blue jeans, black T’s and doc martins for the smaller pubs and seedier clubs, an array of guitars and amps, skills and ‘guitar licks’ enough in the genre’s of jazz, blues, rock and country music to make a decent living. After several hundred club gigs I graduated up into the recording studio brotherhood and, as a professional I was on time, I played my parts proficiently and I got the job done. I continued to rise through the ranks and soon I was performing on network Television.
I had made it and as much as a guitar player can be, I was model professional.
Now and then in the midst of this professional journey I would be foolish and play music for fun… on my own of course, in a room somewhere private… where no one could hear me… and I would fall upon little treasures that I didn’t understand or know what to do with… and so, I would keep them to myself and then go off onto my next professional gig, keep my head down and do my job.
But, like a child reading his first Agatha Christie novel… I could not put ‘the book’ down… or stay away from my closet musings with my guitar and these little noodlings or melodies of childlike lyrics… all of which… was very unlike the professional I was trained to be. For, without realizing it, I was falling in love… with music and these simple little musical ideas and chordal shapes.
I would stumble upon a basic uncomplicated chord progression and begin to imagine a rock pool or a mountain stream and I would sit there and let the peace wash over me. Then I would hear someone walking down the hall towards my hideout and I would hurriedly put my guitar away as if I had been caught doing something naughty.
Last week a singer-songwriter, who had been most insistent (like the old woman and the judge) that we get together for a ‘one on one’, dropped by my office. The songwriter hoped that I would agree to a) be her songwriting coach and b) introduce her to producer‘s or labels that would be interested in signing her.
After we had moved on from discussing the weather and completed the usual pleasantries associated with meeting someone new, she took out her acoustic guitar and played some of her original songs for me.
I could hear the makings of a good writer in her… and I can honestly say that I was impressed with bits and pieces of each song… a melody here and a lyric there.
But that’s like saying that the parts of the apple the worm hasn’t eaten are quite edible.
Have you ever been offered a job that seemed too good to be true?
One organization chased me for years, wanting me to take on the role of their creative director. The job would have required me to uproot my family and move again… this time out of LA… away from where I believed I was meant to be.
After each polite refusal these guys would offer more money and bigger perks.
Their last offer was kind of crazy…”They would pay me $150k per year plus a large deposit on a house of my choosing and all I had to do was be an influence over the creative team… I didn’t have to do any specific work or show up at any given time…
“Please… just live amongst us!”
I said no… It was just too good to be true.
You stand on stage before a crowd of people, many of whom are in desperate need of love and acceptance … and they each wonder… “Could love really be unconditional, kind, patient and all embracing”… and right on cue, as if you can read their thoughts… you whisper to yourself… “Boy have they come to the right place… and I have just the song for them.”
“But wait… stop… STOP SINGING!?” I say, holding up my hand like a traffic cop.
“Huh” you reply with a confused and bewildered expression on your face. “Why are you interrupting me? I am trying to love these people with my tender song about love and intimacy.”
And I counter with…
“But why are you shouting this song out as if the person you love is on a mountain top many miles away.”
You are even more perplexed now and so I sit you down, give you a moment to gather yourself before I continue…
“Imagine yourself, not on stage but in a lovely restaurant.
You are having a romantic dinner with the love of your life. You have a private table in the corner of the room. The red rose you bought her/him sits in a fine crystal vase on a matching red linen table cloth. You hold hands and look into each others eyes as the flickering candles throw a soft light onto your faces.
In this long anticipated moment, your hands begin to perspire. You desperately want to tell this special person about the deep love and desire you have for them. You had considered a card, a scented love letter perhaps… even a plane flying over her/his house with a banner saying “I Love You with all of my Heart”. But in the end you knew that, to convey both your passion and the feelings of tenderness you must sing this lovely song.
So consider carefully.
Do you stand up on your chair and belt out the song for all to hear, including the other diners in the restaurant and the cooks in the kitchen? Or do you look deeply into this loved one’s eyes and sing in a half whisper, in a tone of voice that sounds slightly broken, as if he/she is the only person in the whole wide world that matters to you in this moment?
If you can understand my little allegory, then you are ready to return to the stage and share your love song with your audience.