It's Important

(an article for the SVSA Newsletter)

In a hectic world, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important. 

Recently, I was doing a little workshop in a small group at church, in which we were all working to “discover our life purpose.”  

We’d done a number of exercises, and had a lot of conversations.  Then we did a drill where, on one side of a piece of paper, I we wrote down things that gave us joy. 

I wrote down things like playing and writing music, of course.  Also hiking, doing Aikido, spending time with loved ones, teaching, debating, etc… 

On the right side of the page, we then wrote down things that we thought the world needed more of. I could have written really practical stuff. Instead, I found myself listing lofty concepts like understanding, compassion, patience, forgiveness, curiosity, and acceptance. 

Then, we were asked to match up the left and right sides of the pages, essentially answering the question of which of the things that bring us joy are connected to the things we think is lacking in the world.  Then, we were coached to find “actions” to take that would connect those dots. 

For me, there was no “silver bullet.” There was no magic “aha” moment in which I suddenly realized the missing piece of my life’s puzzle that would forever guide the rest of my days. 

But I did have a bit of an awakening. 

In my case, I realized that I simply need to keep working to be the changes I want to see in the world (pretty sure I’ve seen that on a bumper sticker – “be the change”).  I need to continue to practice my music, continue to teach what I know, continue to learn more, continue to cultivate compassion for myself and my fellow man, etc. 

And then, I need to connect with more people; one at a time, a few at a time, and many at a time. However I can. 

That’s where my music started to take on a meaning that it never really had for me before. I’ve always treated my music as something rather self-serving; something I do primarily for myself, and perhaps for the adoration of a few fans. 

But there’s more to it.  Music is a way to connect with people.  Music is one of MY ways of connecting with people. Whether you write love songs, or folk songs, or blues songs; whether you play covers, or originals; whether you play in public, or in private; music is a way of bridging the gap between human beings. 

And that makes it more than fun, or beautiful, or interesting.  That makes it important. 

So, I’m working on it.  I’m working on being the change I want to see in the world, and music will be one way in which I connect with people. 

You never know who you’re going to influence.