Somewhere around December every year I start to go very inward. To me it’s not a time of year to run around like a fool and get stressed out. It’s a time to reflect upon my year, what I’ve learned, what I’ve screwed up, how I’ve succeeded, how I’ve failed and start to focus for next year. I wasn’t always this way. If I were to be honest it’s the extreme ups and downs of having Type 1 (juvenile) Diabetes for so many years that pushed me to become this way. It’s one of those things that gets worse with every passing year. Every year my immune system is less functional, and I have less energy to bounce back from the down times. It takes me longer to bounce back now, and I don’t always feel so strong. We all like to think ourselves as strong, tough, survivors, and maybe even a bit badass at times. Winter is especially a challenging time for me, as I am really vulnerable to viruses and other crap. They affect me much harder than the average person. A flu can kill me if I’m not careful. Noted advice from a doctor one year: “Don’t get the flu!”. Right. I’m on it. About 7 or 8 years back now it was a damn close call. But when the rubber meets the road and you realize your time could be at hand….trust me, you start to think heavily about a lot of things you never considered before with some real seriousness. That was far from the first time nor the most recent of close calls. But it is the one that sticks out the most in my mind for some reason. Maybe the one where I learned the most and it stuck with me.
- What are you doing with your time? Is it useful?
- The relationships in your life….are they meaningful?
- Are you on a good path in life?
- Are you really doing the best you can?
- What kind of person will you be remembered as? If it’s a jackass, how might you change that sooner than later?
- Did you leave something good behind to be proud of?
It’s the cosmic baseball bat that comes along and smacks all that toughness out of you right at the knees, and trust you will fall to them. They call this humility. Real humility, not the kind in books. Quite honestly, everyone can use a dose of that here and there. Though this is no fun way to learn it. If I could advise all you healthy people out there with long fruitful lives one thing: Do your best to think about such things now, and you’ll have have less regrets in the future. Church, various spiritual paths, etc are all fine…whatever you choose. Don’t get me wrong. But it’s just the study of a book. Living vicariously through interpretations of the words of past prophets is not the full answer. But it can certainly help I suppose.
Every year now I like to focus on a song that is profoundly meaningful and universally connects with anyone who hears it without being clique’y or pretentious. That’s what music should do! Music is my religion. It is the thing that moves me, keeps me honest, keeps my sense of humor, and is the light in my darkest hour. I believe music is a universal language. I believe it has the ability to change people and perspectives. I see it (literally) as math and physics assembled in a beautiful way to be projected out in rhythmic patterns. Waves between 18Hz to 22Khz (yep, I went below and above 20) grouped together in the right combination that our brains interpret as pleasing sound by a receiving membrane in our ears. It makes us laugh, cry, dance, jump around like fools, shout, and on and on. The right words in that mix can add even more meaning. And if the sounds of uttering a word creates a vibration, wouldn’t that just scientifically make sense anyhow? Even if you don’t know the language?
This year I feel this song takes the cake. It has a deep but simple message. And of course, Jason’s musicianship / vocal work is top caliber, as is the group of ladies (Raining Jane) playing with him. Listen carefully to the lyrics. This is real songwriting. Not fashion or industry agenda pushing. Not to mention that this is all live.
I have a lot of people to thank and be grateful for being my beacon in dark times. They are always the ones you least expect, and it seems to come out of nowhere. And so I do my best to be a beacon back and for someone else who probably least expects it. You don’t have to do anything special. You don’t have to go out of your way. You just have to be there at the right time and when it means something. They do not need to be long overdone moments. Most of all, you have to mean it and it needs to be genuine. If it’s not, don’t bother. Anyone who’s been in a really dark spot knows all you want to do is knock a phony persons teeth out, as it feels like they are mocking you. So don’t be that guy / gal.
Go inward for the holidays & stay away from the business behind Christmas. Have gratitude for the people who shine light in your life when times are darker, and shine back to others whenever you can on their dark times in exchange. Be real. Avoid bullshit smalltalk. There’s too much of that. We all need to have a balance between receiving that light, and being that light. Too much of one or the other and you tend to lose perspective. Either you lose your way in the dark and become utterly consumed by it after too long immersed in it, or you lose your humility and think yourself above others and always in the right….after all you’ve “earned” it right?
It’s the simplest thing that could change this destructive world, and bring it out of darkness. It starts with a simple act. I’m not telling you anything you haven’t heard a million times already. But maybe the fact that I’m not quoting from a book & speak from my own experiences will make it more real. Or…… just listen to this song if music moves you. We won’t know where it leads until we start on a mass species level (groups are not enough). Of the many things in life that are uncertain in all ways, one thing is certain: Spreading and basking in darkness will be the end of us. That much is certain. War, environmental collapse, disease, overpopulation, corruption, racism, and violence can all be overcome or at least made better by shining on one another. So do it. And when the Holiday season is over, KEEP on doing it. This is not a once a year exercise.
As Captain Picard would have said: