Recently I received a quick note from someone I care about very much. (Keep in mind, this portion is taken out of context. Still, I think it’s important.)
“I really don’t think what I say, or think, or suggest, or will to do matters at all.
I don’t really own anything (I do have a few toys to pacify me though).
No one is interested in my opinion, nor is it worth anything.
I have no power at my job.
I have no power at home.
I have no power in my community.
I’m a drone.
I share this subconscious truth with almost every man I come in contact with.”
First, I want to reassure you, Gentle Reader, that moments later, in follow-up e-mails, we were joking and teasing each other, just like we’ve been doing for the past 27 years. He’s doing fine, and he’s surrounded by people who love him. (Like me.)
But his message really touched me, and made me wonder… To what extent do each of us carry these thoughts/feelings around with us from day to day?
My longtime, dear and trusted Friend,
Well, if we’re talking on a “universe” level, then I can see where you’re coming from. I’m just a speck of dust. And “I” may be no more than a collection of preferences.
At the same time, while I hear where you’re coming from, and while I can understand the motivation behind it, still I do find reasons to love, to laugh, to create.
I think creating beauty and celebrating beauty matters. My connection with you is part of that celebration.
Even if I’m only a speck of dust, I still have the power to love others. To connect with others. To express hope, fear, joy, sadness, wonder…
And when I write and record a song and someone else listens to it, there’s a chance they might connect. There’s a chance they might walk around humming the chorus. What is it that lives on through that humming? If I’m singing a song you wrote, what is it that lives on through my singing?
I remember believing that it was important to be remembered. I no longer believe this. Instead, I’m coming to believe that it’s important to pour myself out, again and again, through music. Through service. Through connection.
And it seems that the very moment that I quit thinking about reaching the goal of “creating meaning in my life” and I simply sink into whatever I’m doing (now writing lyrics; now building chord progression; now erasing words; now thinking of a word that rhymes; now standing up to stretch), that is the moment when the meaning really shines.
Ha ha… I’m reminded of a day a couple years ago when I was riding my mountain bike down the back side of Dry Fork. In my inexperienced, vacation-celebrating haste, I was barreling down the side of the mountain, holding on for dear life. I saw nothing but the rocks right ahead of me; the bushes on either side of me; the single track unfolding before me. Every ounce of my concentration was focused on adjusting to the ever-shifting situation. I grinned, and for one split second, I wondered what my buddy (see top of post) would think if he could see me now. That very moment, my front wheel disappeared off the right side of the track (hidden by the overgrowth).
Face, meet Earth.
What about you? How do you create meaning in your life, and what role does music play in that process?