I had just about the best weekend ever.
Dan and I sat in the humidity of Troy, Ohio, marveling at the music and the transformation of a beautiful small town into a landscape for some of the best creative expression in the world today. I’ve never attended a
concert before where I loved every single song, even the ones I didn’t know.
It was a stroll through discovery and exploration, talking to people just because they sat next to us and at times, not having to talk at all. The heartfelt music loud and driven by passion, seeped inside every single one of the 28,000 people spread over the football field, into the bleachers and anywhere in earshot.
So it was a concert, you’re saying. So what? Well, I don’t roll like that.
I love every minute of a place I’ve never been. It’s a discovery of the Self, how I see the world, how other people live, how I see myself and really, the kind of person I want to be.
Stop the old stories – it’s time to seek Truth. In the face of music inspired by the meaning of life and higher power and just the way the notes hold together and flow one to the next, you can’t help but scrape away all the extraneous and invite inspiration into your lap.
Three of the bands on that Gentlemen of the Road stage sang of the Divine at times, yet none of them claim to be bona fide Christian bands. The musicians insist that they are inspired by one God, a God that serves everyone, the notion of God, perhaps, and so every song is your God and my God and their God and the God of the people we’ve never met.
After the concert, I sailed through Facebook and learned that a revered Detroit rabbi, Eliezer Cohen, died suddenly. At 67, he was a beloved teacher and a controversial figure because he decided Jewish Law according to how he believed it should be decided – not bowing to community pressure or communal norms of the day.
Friends upon friends posted their memories of him as their teacher, lamenting the loss of this singular figure who would not be swayed by the opinions of others and paid for it, though he lived according to his conscience and his heart.
He was the kind of Orthodox rabbi I could get behind. I’m lucky to have known a few of them in my life; they’re the reason I was ever Orthodox in the first place.
It’s that singular approach to deciding what is meaningful to you, and voting your conscience that I love about all the bands I heard in Ohio. You may laugh as I align a relatively unknown Orthodox rabbi with popular musicians inspired by their Christian upbringing. No matter. It’s truth to me.
You see, this search for meaning is a universal thing. You and I, we are the same. I don’t care what you call it or what name you give to it; we are the same.
The strum of fingers against the strings, the intensity of a foot stomping to the fiddle beat, the passion of the bow strings sprung from their perch due to heart-filled playing…when you give something your all, when you love what you do and your message means so much to you that you just have to share it with the world, that’s where inspiration comes from.
I’ve always been inspired by music. How can you not be? And the older I get, the more possibility I see. Why can’t I learn to play guitar? I am only 42! Why not sing on a stage? I have decades ahead of me to make my mark.
We all do. Actually, life gets better if we have that attitude. There is more we can accomplish, do, see, be as we get older because the barriers to trying new things disappear.
Most people don’t spend their lives doing what they love. And I admit, this is a first-world conversation, entirely – in most parts of the world life is for getting by, surviving, making do. We have the luxury of being able to pursue our passions – so why wouldn’t you?
Marcus Mumford dropped out of college to pursue his music. Mumford and Sons won a Grammy at 25. He’s only 26. Lucky to have struck gold at such a young age.
The guys in Old Crow Medicine Show weren’t as lucky – they started out busking on street corners until they were discovered and had some band member turnover over the years. Now they can look back and say it was all worth it – but I bet they didn’t know that at the outset.
Life is too short not to take chances. If you try, take one step out of your comfort zone, you risk finding true happiness, deeper meaning and the whole reason we’re on this planet.