My grandfather spent hours transforming pieces of wood into trinkets, flowers, crosses, turkeys, reindeer, trees…just about any sort of thing he thought of. Like any artist, he was only happy if his pieces were given away.
But, racism does not have to mean hate crimes, or discrimination. Racism can also be that hidden part of ourselves that fears what we do not know. Racism can be allowing cultural stereotypes to inform perceptions. Racism can be what we do with each and every one of those small, split second decisions we make. And, Its in those split second decisions that lives are changed or lost.
This post involves a rat, a party and a broken van door...
Over the past six months, I've wrestled with where to go with this music venture. Do I record another album? Do I ramp up my efforts and commit even more time to developing a career in music? Do I throw in the towel on this whole thing and go back to playing piano when I can? I've had an idea rolling around in the back of my mind and have, up till now, left it there because I've been afraid of the amount of work it would require and the scariness of it all. However, after months of processing, thinking, praying, and hinting at something new, I've made a decision...
Now, contentment may seem pretty trite in comparison to fame and notoriety, but think about it for a moment. At the core of who we are, do we not function best when we are content? Do we not see things more clearly? Are we not able to love better and deeper? Instead of fear, anxiety or worry motivating us, can we not be motivated by compassion, mercy and justice? The earlier being internal protectionist motivators, the later being outward life-giving motivators. In a spirit of contentment, I can look at fame and notoriety, not as an end, but as a means.
I'm on a highway in a city. Its treacherous. The road moves dramatically up, down, and around tight curves. I'm moving at gut-wrenching speeds in order to keep up with traffic and it feels as if I might loose control at any moment. There is no ground, only the highway suspended in mid air. If I should veer ever so slightly I will plunge down into the unknown. I'm unsure of where I'm going, so I frantically look at signs, trying to determine my course. My heart is racing and I'm overwhelmed.
Then I wake up and the anxiety of this recurring dream lingers for a moment.
What remains, though, is an emotional, psychological and/or mental deficiency in connecting and committing to others in a real way. Just as a newborn's heart rate and breathing can be regulated by simply placing him or her on their mother's chest, I believe our emotional/psychological/mental health depends on personal, present and tangible connection and dependance on others (and more than just our families, I might add).
I've been chasing after community for a long, long time. I've experienced it before, and I always knew I would know it when I saw it again, but I've been doubtful that it could even happen anymore. People's lives have become too hurried, too skeptical, too individualist, and too critical (mine included) - characteristics antithetical to real community.
There was a sense of anxiety as I logged off. I think it was a fear that I would miss something, or not be part of something that everyone else is a part of, or that people would forget who I was, or that no one would miss me at all.
Why? Why am I doing this? Why? What a waste of resources and time. I could be home with my husband and kids. Time away from them is so valuable these days - is this all really worth it? The not-knowing? The risk? I've started this whole thing too late in life - at the wrong time. Most of my musician friends have been doing this for a decade. They don't seem to have to fight so hard.
Most faces were looking down, but as I spoke to their value and their worth, their eyes began looking at mine. I saw them nod their heads. I felt a sense of empowerment, not for myself, but rather for them, in that moment. It broke my heart to think that they don't hear these words often enough. Some, maybe never.
His wife glanced up when I knocked and she gave me, what I gathered was, a look of annoyance. I reminded myself to breath, smile, and do what I came to do as I stepped closer to the bed.
There has been this gnawing sense of something unfinished, something unrealized, something not yet fleshed-out. As if my need for affirmation and approval was the tip of the figurative iceberg and really something very huge was just under the surface.