My wife recently gave my daughter a riddle: “What needs to be broken before it can be used?” The actual answer is an egg, but my daughter quickly replied, ‘A heart!’
I thought it was a great answer, and it made me think about the people I know who seem to be most connected to their heart.
We made something I’m really proud of. And now we were done. With the creating at least.
Time to shift gears. It’s time to market.To promote.To sell.
I struggle with this part.
We live in an age in which access to information is nearly limitless, which has its benefits, but it has also made us confront the world and its nearly suffocating torrent of problems. At times it can feel overwhelming.
If you’re honest, has learning more about these events helped you in any way? More importantly, if you're just reading about it and not taking action, has it helped the subject of whatever trial or tribulation you are reading about in any way?
The experience was a wake-up call for my friend, and I love her for being willing to share this story with others.
It's made me question my own biases - conscious, unconscious, and what my upbringing and experience may have imparted. When have I misperceived reality?
This time has me filled with gratitude to the many people who have made this possible, and I wanted to take a pause and thank them.
To everyone that played or sang or helped out on Spaces, thank you for your spirit, your talent, and your energy. We made something beautiful!
I’m happier believing that no one at the facility was lying to me or a thief. I call this approach going with the Most Reasonable Interpretation, or (wait for it), MRI.
I’ve found that approaching most situations in life with an MRI makes me happier.
Do you feel similarly?
I armed myself with a hammer, chisel, saw, and a screwdriver, and snuck out of the house around 11pm, after my parents went to bed.Fifteen minutes later I was contemplating my prize, which lay atop a standard 8-10 foot street sign pole.
I've found that choosing where to put my energy is at least as important as how hard I work. Have you found this to be true in your life?
Can you think of times you weren’t honest because it was just too hard emotionally?Are there times you’ve lied to yourself?Some people’s perception of reality remains incredibly distorted.And if their personalities are sufficiently strong, they can distort other people’s realities as well.
Those lessons lasted less than two years, until around the time I left for college. But they changed my life. And I will always be grateful.
Have you had mentors in your life that believed in you, perhaps more than you believed in yourself?
I had upset a friend and collaborator.
They were really pissed, and wanted to quit the project we had put tons of time and energy into.
I had done it completely accidentally, not understanding that my actions would upset them.
But then something cool happened. I got in touch with a newer, more subtle magic.
And a realization that music is very deep. You can always go further, and find more mysteries, and more magic.
The stepfather is a caricature, of course. But there are also very few people in the world (or at least my world), who don’t have some control issues – times when we get frustrated at things not going the way we think they should …or at someone behaving in a way we consider inappropriate, …or at someone not understanding our point of view.
So what do we do when we feel that people are not behaving reasonably?
If you're in a committed relationship, and you’ve never experienced a mutual attraction with another person, congratulations! I would venture to say you’re in the minority.
I was far too young for Elaine, but she didn’t mind sharing a ride with a smiling kid who was just beginning to discover girls.
I will always remember the feeling I had, looking up at the night sky and full of wonder.
Of course, there are limits. When I was in college, I almost died twice in the same week – once on a mountain and once almost falling down a waterfall – both times pushing through when I was scared. I’ve since learned to be a bit more measured when it comes to taking physical chances!
She said, “We just follow the energy.” Whatever gives us the most energy, we do it.
I realized that was true for me as well. When I follow the energy, things go better in my life.
When unexpected things happen, we choose the reasons that resonate for us - reasons that fit into our understanding of the world and ourselves. These reasons form a narrative, and that narrative creates a lens through which we see the world, a lens that shapes our reality and influences others.
My anger was really strong. It came in waves. In fact, a few times it literally came in waves, as I found myself in a rage while surfing, one of my favorite things to do in the world, and not being able to enjoy it.
I was pissed. I engaged in elaborate revenge fantasies, things that I knew wouldn’t lead to happiness. They sure were fun to think about though!
We are the product of millions of years of evolution, a process that has helped select for traits that keep humanity going. It stands to reason that our strongest motivator is survival.
As I have mentioned before, when I’m trying to do something hard, approaching the obstacle as if it’s a matter of life or death can be helpful.
The first time I stepped inside a church, I was in high school. It was a funeral for several members of a wonderful Catholic family, the unfortunate victims of a horrible accident. I remember being moved by the sanctity of the building and the solemnity of the occasion.
Then the preacher spoke.
There's so much craziness happening in the world. But the birds outside my window don't seem to notice.
What happens to humans under stress?
One consequence is that we have a higher need for certainty. When our fight or flight instinct is triggered, we need to feel sure.
That’s the main way I am processing some of the craziness that’s been happening.
In the crazy materialistic culture of Wall Street, I had learned something surprising.
Selfishness and generosity are not opposites. The happier you are, the easier it is to be magnanimous to others.
I fall in love with my creation, feeling like it's the best song anyone has ever written. Then I fall out of love and go back to editing. Euphoria, despair, deep concentration – they’re all there. It's an all-consuming process!
Needless to say, I'm not the most easygoing human if I'm interrupted during this process. Don’t mess with my muse!
I remember one songwriter who brought in a song with a lyric about “purple rain." One of our core members asked nicely what her intent was in quoting a famous Prince lyric. She got very defensive, and when it came his turn to play a song, she went on the attack, saying something like, “Who are you to question my lyrics when you’ve written such drivel!” Needless to say, she wasn’t invited back.
As a songwriter, I try to be as connected to my emotions as is possible.
As a numbers guy, I trust math and science to point to the best path.
It’s always interesting when the two point in different directions, since they are equally strong in me.
What do you trust more, your rational brain or your gut?
The easier we make it for people to truly serve their country (in a way that feels rewarding and true to their beliefs, and doesn’t require them to be career politicians), the more likely we will get better people in government.
Wouldn’t that be nice?
The owner heard my story and agreed to hear me play. I was nervous - my hands shook each time I lifted them off the keys. But I was determined. I performed those early originals with more passion than ever before, and by the time I finished I was beaming.
I was the only one.
I was inspired to write this song when my wife told me she felt I wasn’t paying enough attention to our family.
I tried to write it from her perspective, and then switched it around, since I also miss her when she’s away.
I’m sure you got a lot of emails today.
How many made you smile?
How many made you feel good?
If you’re like me, not many.
Have you fallen down a rabbit hole recently and lost sight of the big picture?
Were you able to regain perspective?
A coach once told me that if you wanted to achieve the highest level of excellence in something, it helps to behave like it is a matter of life or death.
But if you actually believe that putting on a great show is a matter of life or death, you’re a little insane.
In 2012, my friend Craig bought a few hundred acres in the Ecuadorian Cloud Forest to save it from being cleared for cattle ranching and reintroduce some ancient plants.
He’s been threatened many times by local dairy farmers (some of them wielding machetes). But he didn’t give up.
Why do you do this?I had been working incredibly hard on a big dream that motivated me every day. But when it came true, I didn’t know what came next. And that made me restless, dissatisfied. My life blew up. The woman left me (can’t blame her). I took a break from my business (almost lost it). And I started searching.
But, I also realized that age has its benefits. I’m wiser, and consequently subject to fewer illusions. I’m blessed to be performing for the sole reason of having a great time, following a passion, and trying to inspire others.
Why do you do this?I have this memory of being 12 and dancing around my room to the Beatles.She came in, smiled, and said something like “All You Need is Love? That’s not true. You need more than love. You need to learn skills, earn money…”
The shoot itself was hardly glamorous though – we were there for eight hours, mostly sitting around in the cold (the venue had no heat and it was 40 degrees outside).
I guess that’s show business.
Balance is wonderful. But if you’re trying to accomplish something truly great, it’s almost impossible to not be a little obsessive while doing it. The good news is that it's okay for things to get out of balance - for a time.
Prince, John Coltrane – two of the greatest musicians of our time. Even after achieving world-class mastery, they worked relentlessly to get better and create even more magic. On the flip side, both also struggled with addiction to drugs and alcohol, and perished early from related effects. I wonder…is it possible to create so much magic, and also lead a somewhat balanced life?
Water runs downhill, following the path of least resistance. Humans also follow the path of least resistance. I try to overcome this tendency by figuring out what motivates me the most
I have a good friend who writes symphonies. Back when he was starting out and unknown, he learned that you could get a discount from a concert hall if you were affiliated with a recognized charity.