The other day I got a post from a person with whom I was once pretty close. He had decided to send me a scathing post deriding my character, my talent and my very existence. It came out of left field, almost two years since we last spoke. The post was nasty and it’s only purpose was to make me feel bad. Fortunately, I know what a damaged fellow he is and I forgave him and understood that it was his rage and not his heart that was talking. I also know that I am not the source of his rage, only the outlet. But still it got me to thinking about the times in my life when I have actually gone out of my way to make another person feel bad. You have to ask yourself why you would want to do something like that.
Years ago (back in the 70’s) a friend and I took LSD and went to the beach. We laid there on the warm sand and watched a carefree group of teenagers playing volleyball. The sun was setting behind them and the water was on fire. Their silhouettes in black against the diamond sea fire was remarkable and their joy at just playing in the warm California sun was palpable. I remember turning to my friend and saying, “we are here such a short while. Why would we choose to do anything except make it nicer for each other. We should just make it easier for each other.”
It’s been years since I got that kind of high, but the truth of the realization is still with me and I think about it every single day. I try to make things easier, more fun, nicer, more encouraging for everyone I encounter. I am not trying to sound like Pollyanna here, just suggesting that that is a better pursuit than say, starting a pre emtive war in Iraq.
When I teach songwriting or performing or guitar at these camps that exist, I always try to hear what the person is trying to do and then I do all I can to help them get there. I don’t think that creativity comes out of discouragement of the act. The world can’t wait to discourage you. The world is standing in line to discourage you. Why in the world would I, as a teacher, or a performer for whom you have some regard, try to discourage you? Why would anyone want to discourage you?
And now ask yourself if you are encouraging or discouraging to those around you? It’s just better all around if we offer our hand and not our derision to each other. It goes a long way in living our lives and it has to resonate thru our music.
My sister is one of the most gifted performers that I have ever seen. She comes on stage and immediately embraces the audience with her eyes, her tone of voice, her body language…literally everything about her says I love you all and I’m so glad that you are here. She brings joy where ever she goes, laughing at her own trials along the way. I often use her as an example to myself. Do I want to be a joy bringer or the harbinger of discouragement? Another variation on "what do I want to have happen here?".
I choose to bring joy to people. And I wonder what kind of a world we’d live in if everyone tried to do the same?