I noticed something as I was seeing my 6 year old off to school this morning. She had given me a kiss and enthusiastically ran into her class room to start her day. I was just leaving when I caught myself smiling at the other parents as I passed by. I also noticed that my posture was very strait and I felt tall.
This shouldn’t be such a novel thing for someone of 6 feet and 3 inches but for me, it still feels weird. As a child, I struggled to fit in. we moved a lot and my family was far from affluent. As a result, I found myself in schools and neighborhoods that were a little rough around the edges. In my memory, I was often shocked how mean the kids could be. Racism was definitely an issue but as a white Anglo American, I was experiencing it from the other side of that imaginary fence. We often lived in places where we were the minority. I had no axe to grind, no hard feelings to bring to the table but my peers often seemed to have generations of hard feelings behind their tempers and they were very eager to put me where I belonged.
My home would have been a safe place to go but we had our struggles there too. We were a text book example of what a fragmented family of the 80s looked like. Hard working frustrated parents and wandering children. I think my sisters and I walked an average of 50 miles a week looking for things to do in all parts of town, playing in the woods and dodging bullies. Our parents were completely unaware of our comings and goings unless we were in trouble for something. By the time I was out of high school, I was chronically depressed and had the lowest self esteem a person could have. I had already made a couple of very half hearted attempts to commit suicide and was uncomfortable in my own skin. Everyone knew how I felt because my posture sagged enough to inspire teachers to lecture me about it and peers to tease and persecute me for being an obvious cipher. I hated being in crowded rooms and preferred to be in a quiet place where I could think and meditate or listen to music.
Ah, music! That elixir of life! That gift of god that snuck up and goosed me when I wasn’t looking!
I would have died from humiliation at the thought of becoming an entertainer of any kind. I wouldn’t even dream of being in front of people until much later. My crutch in the beginning was my records and tapes. (Remember those?) Even while I was working as a mechanic, I would use music to sooth my demons. If I was treated badly by a demanding customer who was convinced that I was a criminal even before he introduced himself to me, I would play meditative music or classical music. If I was feeling good and wanted to maintain that, I might play something from the B52s.
But something happened along the way. I found myself in a quiet community where my neighbors were very supportive and I was able to achieve successes that were quite unique. I found that I had a surprising ability to accomplish things… weird things. Like building sail boats from scratch, building wood clocks (also from scratch), creating and operating my own business and even learning to play new musical instruments with little or no instruction to name a few.
Further, I discovered to my amazement that as I got out of my comfort zone and met my fears head on, I began to notice people who I look up to who were too afraid to do the same… How can this be?? They are so cool and I am nobody! What a grand illusion we live in! After about 30 years of hating myself and believing that I did not have anything to offer, I found myself doing things that my peers are often too afraid to do. I have become a musician, author, public speaker and I live to help people to feel better about themselves and about life! Where did it come from? The easy answer is that it came from God but the longer answer is that I was blessed to see through the illusion that kept me quiet. The illusion that made me feel unworthy. That feeling that stopped the music that was inside of me.
I have lived a lifetime in a shell and by the grace of God have found a much happier world. My music now flows like a river! I have been standing tall for a few years now but it still feels new and powerful.
This morning I felt a surge of gratitude. I want to thank my God, my Family, my Friends, my Supporters and not least of all- YOU, my readers and my listeners. You have been there to receive my most precious gifts that I have to give. When I play my music, I am not really sharing my music with you. I am sharing my soul and it has a lot to say. Thank you so much for being a part of my journey!
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