Wednesday, June 19, 2013

what are you waiting for?

When last I blogged, I was having, well, sort of a day. And much to my surprise, it turned out quite a few people related to the accompanying emotions surrounding that day. So to those of you who reached out to me in love, or support, or mere camaraderie - thank you so much. Now on with the blog...

I get a lot of political emails, and the subject lines of them range from mild outrage to downright pissed-off-titude (my own new word). But I got one recently that grabbed me. Oh, not because of anything political, but it seemed like a question that the universe was asking me directly. "What are you waiting for?"

Yeah, that's a great question we could all be asking ourselves. What are we waiting for? The right time? Money? The stars to align?

What is it that stands in the way of us doing that thing our hearts would love to do? What would it take for us to realize that the time is now and the moment is ripe for us to step up knowing that the world needs exactly what it is we have to offer right this very minute?

I really don't think most of us are compelled to action until we're either in so much pain that we must act, or until we have some type of life-changing experience that opens our eyes to both the fragility as well as to the brevity of life. But be that as it may, here we are, plodding along, waiting and hoping for - oh, what's it called again? Courage.

So I'm offering up this quote from an interview I transcribed a few years back, along with a proposal to all of you. Here's the quote: "I believe that we can all have our dreams to the extent that we are willing to help others have their dreams."

And here's my proposal: if you're not willing or able to take the step today on behalf of yourself, then help someone else on their journey. Every one of us has the ability to be an encourager at the very least, or a miracle-worker at our finest. Perhaps our work is a solitary endeavor, but accomplishing anything beyond the creation of it isn't.

What kind of world would this be if we told each other why we should strive for greatness instead of why we shouldn't? How would the fabric of our humanity be altered if we were happier? What are we doing here if not becoming the fullest version of ourselves?

And what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

who am I, again?

I’ve been in a good place for a while now, so this was bound to happen. Most days I’ve got enough optimism to look on the bright side of everything, enough faith to believe good things are coming even if I don’t yet see them, enough energy to work towards my goals, and enough perseverance not to stop until I reach them.

Then there are days like today.

Every once in a while I want to take my toys and go home, leave the proverbial sandbox and go sit in a corner and cry for a while for all the ways in which I think I’ve failed miserably, for the seeming futility of big dreams, and for what might, despite my best efforts, never happen. It is a dark place I go unexpectedly, and so it catches me off-guard when I find myself there.

I don’t imagine that most people can understand this. It is a peculiar life that writers and artists lead. While I can’t speak for all of us, I think it would be safe to say that most of us have a heightened sensitivity to human suffering and an insatiable longing to fill a perceived void within ourselves. That the void doesn’t really exist and that the suffering is not ours alone to bear is not really the point. Perception is everything.

So there I sat, aware that I’m usually the one cheering everybody else up when they’re in this place, but unable to do it for myself. That’s what we have friends for – to remind us who we are when we’ve momentarily forgotten.

Anyone who has ever taken a blank piece of paper and made something out of it, whether it is the great American novel, the Mona Lisa, or a paper airplane has honored some part of their spirit longing for expression. It is never the logical, rational, or even wise thing to do by the world’s standards, but for those of us who create, it is the only thing to do, the only choice there is.

I have wanted to record a CD of my inspirational songs for many years. And at the start of 2013, I declared that this was the year for it to come to fruition. But as we are approaching the halfway mark of 2013, I must admit, all the reasons not to do it seem far more prudent than the ones to do it. Oh, I never said I’d given up, but the truth is I had.

Funny thing about that, though - because I had already engaged other people in my vision and had started planning, working, setting all the wheels in motion, when I got to my “I’m gonna give up, cause what’s the point of it” funk, my friend, Tanya told me, kind of in no uncertain terms, I might add, that she wasn’t going to let me give up on me.

She used irrefutable logic like: Do you really want to be on your deathbed saying, “I should’ve made that fucking album?” Who could argue with that kind of reasoning?

So instead of continuing my tearful wallowing, I went through my list of prospective songs for the project. I recorded work tapes of them, even finding one I really liked that I’d forgotten I’d written. I began thinking about what I need to hear that I haven’t yet said and what holes need to be filled in terms of tempo, meter, and subject.

I can’t say I didn’t shed a tear the rest of the day. But I can say that I moved in the direction of my heart’s desire anyway. I just needed a reminder that following my passion and purpose will never be something I’ll regret at the end of my days. But not following it, on the other hand...

Days like this one pass, as do the feelings that accompany them. But they serve a purpose. They are a chance to choose consciously the path well worn or the one we forge ourselves.

Possibility lives in the not knowing. Are we willing to go there? The terrifying thing is anything can happen. And the great thing is...anything can happen.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

And big, fat hugs to my friends for being the stellar examples of what I’ve done so very right.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

"Best Wishes for a Career"

I’ve been cleaning out closets lately, sifting through a lot of things, not stopping too long on any one, trusting my initial instinct to let go of or to save. But tonight I got to a big gray envelope from a music store in New York City that no longer exists, and in it were housed papers from my college days – recital programs, transcripts, various notes from my roommates. But also among these artifacts from the 80’s was a handmade autograph book from a performing arts program I attended in the summer of ’79 when I was fourteen.

I looked at all the complimentary parting words from my cast mates from various shows, our youthful exuberance, and our confidence that future success was a certainty. I wondered if any of the names had become household ones as I tried to recall the faces that went with them.

None jumped out at me. I could remember some of the faces, but mostly of our instructors. I got to one page and immediately remembered ballet class. (I know, I know, you’re imagining the visual that accompanies me in ballet class. Stop laughing.)

On another page, I read, “I’m glad that we will keep in touch.” And because once in a while that kind of statement is actually true, I’ll tell you I’m having dinner with her on Thursday, and we have remained close friends over many miles and years and life paths.

And of course, there was, “I’m glad you are also a pirate.” That’s the kind of thing you just don’t hear often enough these days. Funny thing is I don’t remember actually being a pirate…which, clearly, I was. These are the times I both wish I had some sort of pictorial documentation to jog my memory…and am simultaneously thrilled that I don’t.

But the thing I remember most about that summer is it was the first time I played and sang my songs publicly. And though I have no doubt that they were heartfelt, angst-ridden, and probably dreadful, they moved people, even at fourteen. And knowing that what emanated from my heart and soul could move people, altered the course of my life.

The last note in my little handmade autograph book was three sentences. It read: “Your music is beautiful. Please continue your songwriting. Best wishes for a career.”

It made me laugh out loud. It was definitely to the point. And only now could I both fully appreciate and be amused by the “Best wishes for a career” line. So I googled the guy who wrote it.

I wondered what kind of career he’d had. It turns out he has sort of a common name. And though there were many listed, I only found one in show business – the guy who produced Field of Dreams and the Die Hard movies. Nah, couldn’t be him, I thought. Could it? I have no idea, but because I’m still a believer, I’ll go with maybe it is him. Besides, the one picture I found on IMDB did kind of bear a resemblance to what I remember him looking like, albeit having aged 30+ years.

As for me, I’m still writing songs, although I do think we can safely say that my pirate days are over.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends. And oh yeah, “Best wishes for a career” – whatever your biggest dream for one may happen to be.