We all want to be seen a certain way by others. We want our beliefs, our ideas, and the essence of ourselves to be understood by the people we come into contact with. We hope that what we stand for touches the lives of other people and that the unique identity of our souls leaves a mark on the diverse, fast-paced world that we belong to.
But this is no easy feat.
There are plenty of people out there who play music. Every once in a while, you might find someone who plays pretty good. If you are lucky, you might come across a great musician. But very rarely do you find someone who is the music. Someone who, when they pick up an instrument, becomes possessed by the sound and vibrations and enters a trance-like state in which an outpouring of raw emotion in the form of sound waves flow out in powerful currents, sweeping away anyone who listens.
Every so often, the ground shakes beneath your feet. Usually it’s just a little tremble, testing your ability to stand upright while all that surrounds you shakes. But every once in a while, your entire world is shaken to its very foundations. All that has been built over last few decades, maybe even centuries could be uprooted, shaken, and crumble to the ground. During the 1960’s the world that had been established by generations previous — a perfect little world with definitive lines to divide right and wrong — experienced a violent earthquake that shattered the validity of previous belief systems.
The purpose of art is expression, either of oneself, an opinion, or an ideology. The world full of voices, each one screaming for attention, dying to be heard. Art magnifies the voices of those who might otherwise have been drowned out by the din. Art attracts the eyes and ears of the world to the problems we face in everyday society when we are otherwise ignored by our superiors. Art takes a stand when the world stands against us. That is, until money is involved. Once the big commercial industries take over, art plundered of all that it stands for and simply becomes a money making machine. Rather than giving people what they need to hear, they are sold what they want to hear. Pink Floyd’s “Welcome to the Machine” dares to speak out against the industries that have morphed the music business into simply a cash-cow rather than a place for artistry to flourish.
Pink Floyd left to right: Nick Mason, David Gilmour, Roger Waters, and Richard Wright
Every one of us is a story teller. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like to read or write or don’t consider yourself a creative person. The decisions we make, the actions we take, our triumphs and mistakes – they are all just plot points of our own stories. Our choices to take risks or to hold back are what can make our stories not only memorable, but also significant within the scope of the world. Anyone can weave a powerful story – it doesn’t matter how it starts, that is not up to us, but what we can control is how it ends. A story’s greatness isn’t determined by how widely read it is, but by how deeply read. If someone, somewhere is impacted by you, then you know you have done something at least somewhat significant amidst all that has occurred within time and space. Ultimately, it is ourselves who choose how we will remembered, and it is those who do the most to touch those around them that will be remembered most affectionately. Continue reading
Sometimes life is heavy. It presses down on your back, compresses your chess, constricts your throat, and pushes down on your temples, like a large, calloused, relentless fist. Maybe life has added something to the weight, thrown something at you that was unexpected or unwanted. But it seems to me that the weight is heaviest when it takes something away from you, something that you didn’t realize was actually keeping you up on your feet. Sorrow does not crush you instantaneously like rage, or dangle above your head guilt. It is a load that drags behind you, making sure that you are always looking back and never ahead. Eventually, this load may become a part of you, some extra piece of luggage that you must take with you everywhere you go. Is there any way to rid ourselves of this weight? The struggle to stay afloat in a world that seems to be trying to drag you down is beautifully detailed in the Beatles’ medley “Golden Slumbers/Carry that Weight/the End”, an eloquent and insightful conclusion to Abbey Road, the final album that they would record together. Continue reading
Everybody is susceptible to following a charismatic leader. A few times every century, time and time again, a major issue of some sort will occur — whether a revolution in Russia, a thirst for the end of British imperialism in India, civil rights movements, or the Cold War — heating up until conflict is just about ready to boil over. No matter what the situation, the story is always the same. Someone, whether a humanitarian or an opportunist, will take charge of the situation and direct the needs and desires of the people towards a cause. And because the people believe that this person can give them what they desire, whole nations will follow a charismatic leader to the ends of the earth, even if it turns out that their interests were never truly with the people. It is those that see a need and fulfill it (or at least claim to) that bring about change in the world, for better or for worse, and are written down in history textbooks as benevolent champions and liberators or as megalomaniacal tyrants and oppressors.
Exactly a week before his premature death, Jimi Hendrix gave his final interview in London, September 11, 1970. Now, visuals have been put to his words by the PBS series “blank on blank”. If you haven’t seen “Jimi Hendrix on the Experience” yet, then definitely check it out. His perceptions on people, society, creativity, and change still ring true today, 45 years later.
“The way I write things, I just write them with a clash between reality and fantasy mostly. You have to use fantasy to show different sides of reality; it’s how it can bend. As a word reality is nothing, but each individual’s own way of thinking.”
– Jimi Hendrix