ambition · band · commitment · decision · destiny · dreams · faith · hope · performance · perseverance · self-worth · singing · tenacity · work

Dream Girls

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If we can pass others on the street and think to ourselves,
“There, but for the grace of G-d, go I,” isn’t it possible that others can pass
us and say the same thing?
I spent last evening at a Queen concert. It was balls-out
amazing: the talent, the showmanship, the technique and the bravery to stand
out there, bounce around a stage and invigorate a crowd of thousands.
I had a moment while watching Adam Lambert, who was filling
Freddie Mercury’s shoes pretty darn well, when I realized that only the slightest
differences existed between the two of us.
Go with me here. A plane takes off for New York, but the
compass is one degree off. You end up at the Nyack mall instead of JFK. One
degree. Completely different destination.
If there is just the “grace of god” between me and the
person I see huddled under the freeway gathering up their belongings as the cop car pulls two
wheels up on the sidewalk to shuffle them along to another temporary spot, isn’t
there just the “grace of god” between me and Adam Lambert? Or that woman I saw
perform at Yoshi’s a few years ago: She wasn’t perfect. Her pitch wasn’t always
on, but she was a performer. She had the
crowd completely, she enjoyed herself, she was proud, vivacious, and seen. And
she wasn’t perfect.
I don’t even remember who she
was, except she was the singer of a bluesy/jazzy band, and she was fierce. She
was a large woman with a large smile. And as I watched her, I thought to myself
that I wanted to do what she did; get up there and perform, without needing to be perfect – because if that were the case, I
don’t think any of us would ever do anything, including Adam Lambert.
Over the last year, I have adjusted my compass to be bringing me closer to that
point on the map. I am not so far away in the Canada hinterland, but perhaps
flying somewhere over Buffalo by now. (Can you tell I grew up back east?)
Julia Cameron writes in The Artist’s Way that it isn’t talent that creates success; it’s
tenacity. It’s being a dog’s fierce jaw chomped around a toy rope, refusing to
let go.
The guitar player, Brian May, dazzled the crowd with a
10-minute long epic, cacophonous solo. It was like a safari inside of music
itself: strange, elegant, mystic, and ancient. I said to my friend, That’s what
happens when you spend 40 years doing only one thing.
That’s what happens when you decide that you love one thing,
that you’re good (enough) at one thing, that you want others to know you do this thing: You become great.
Here’s to finding—or claiming, rather—my thing. 

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determination · tenacity · vision

What Would Hitler Do?

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I heard a friend ask this last week, trying to indicate how
we can choose to behave in the world—e.g. if we’re driving on the highway, and
someone cuts us off… well, What Would Hitler Do?
His point was that we can choose to align our negative thinking with that Master of Disaster and flip them off, seek vengeance, and our own kind of selfish order; or we can choose to go another
way with it, a way more forgiving, generous, loving.
Last weekend, I saw The Monuments Men, a movie about a group of Allies who endeavor to
save the art that Hitler and the Nazis were ransacking from all around Europe,
and intended to destroy if he was unsuccessful in his global domination.
He and his troops acquired and housed hundreds of thousands
of sculptures, paintings and artifacts—at least according to the film. All
diligently organized, categorized, catalogued, and stored.
And here’s what I’ve been thinking about, at the risk of
stepping into a hornet’s nest:
All human achievement rests on the ability to bring about
our will and our plans onto the earthly plane.
Let us for a moment, if you’re able, think about the
achievement of this one man: he rallied a country in the midst of an economic
collapse; he held one vision as the goal for his endeavors; he organized one of
the highest levels of precision of action over a grand piece of land and over a
series of years.
There is a saying about folks like me, that though we had
self-will galore, we had the utter inability to point it toward a worthy goal.
And, I think the same is true for Hitler.
The man was organized.
The man had
vision. The man
attempted to wrest out of the chaos of the world the kind of order he deemed
positive.
IF this same man had been guided by the principles of
forgiveness, generosity, and love… what on earth could he have accomplished?
If you can conceive of a Germany that pulled itself out of
economic collapse by organizing itself around principles of helping one
another, creating opportunity for all their people, celebrating inclusion of
people of all religions and sexual orientations and ancestral background…
If, instead of the destruction of people, Hitler’s same
brain and ambition were aimed toward the Jewish value of “tikkun olam” (to
repair the world)—What on earth could have happened??
I get that I may sound daft, offensive, and totally
inconsiderate of the crimes and atrocities that were in actuality wrought upon
the world.
But, I also think there’s a huge lesson to be missed if we
dismiss the fact that one man, one man who ate, and shat, and slept just like
all of the rest of us, changed the entire world. Here was a simple and flawed
human, just like us, who woke up every day with one goal in mind. It was a
horrid goal, I concur and admit and agree and support. But, each day, Hitler
decided that what he wanted to do in the world was the very best thing, and he
didn’t let ANYTHING deter him from that. He continued on, like a (rabid) dog
with a bone, and said, No, World, I’m going to do what I believe I was put on
this earth to do.
That kind of certainty, if aimed toward the “right”
objectives…? It boggles the mind.
Now, the important thing to remember, here, is the “right”
objectives. The proper use of the will, as they might say. I wonder if Hitler
had ever sat in meditation and tried to understand what the highest good was
for him and those around him, if he would have had a different goal. I wonder
if Hitler had tried to exercise, even ungracefully, the qualities of compassion
and vulnerability, if he would have sought a different aim. I also wonder,
if he had, if he would achieved anything at all.
But, then again, there are plenty of examples of compassion
leading the way toward change.
If instead, with his proficient, tenacious,
resourceful, determined, magnanimous personality, Hilter had had the heart of a Mother Theresa, a
Ghandi, or even a Jesus, I believe we would have a much different answer to the question,
What Would Hitler Do?