Friday, March 27, 2015

3 things playing the banjo has taught me about the deeper meaning of life.

This weekend I have the great opportunity to share some stories with high school seniors about what it’s been like living a life of being a musician.  Actually, more about living a life attempting to follow my heart's passion.  It kinda made me think of what giving a commencement speech would be like…..well, here’s what I would say, if someone asked this Spring at graduation time...
I love banjo playing in the airport
Dear Graduating Class of 2015,

Standing here at the dawn of the rest of your life I can think of nothing more fitting than to talk about...the banjo!
No seriously playing the banjo has been a great teacher of deep wisdom and truths.
Actually, I find that anything in our lives can be looked at as a deep teacher of wisdom and truth.
From washing the dishes, to going for a walk, petting your dog, or talking to your mother.  Everything is showing us our perceptions, our reactions, our judgments, our beliefs and what it is that's most important to us.  It’s all there all the time waiting for us to take notice.
For me, being a musician, more specifically knowing how to play the banjo, has put me in so many different situations over the past 12 years that they have opened my eyes and mind to the secrets of what it means to be a human being on this crazy journey called Life.

So here are three things I believe are part of the living wisdom of Life itself.  All of which I’ve gleaned while being a banjo player:
1 – People are good, just open yourself to receive – When Anne I and left on our cross country tour in 2010, we sold our home and drove out to share our music (play the banjo) in a larger way.  We were following our heart’s passion to bring beautiful music to people who would hear it.  People supported us everywhere we went, with meals, homes, childcare, money and everything in between.  Sitting around hundreds of kitchen tables, sharing meals and living space, we witnessed the true essence of people from Wyoming to Tennessee and New York to New Mexico.  PEOPLE ARE GOOD.

2- Live from your passion and people will want to support you – When Anne and I began our music life (playing the banjo), we did it because it made us feel so good.  However, as we progressed, people began to feel that vibrancy coming from us and it awoke a desire in them to see us succeed.  As if they would somehow benefit from us continuing to be passionate for what we wanted.  When we live from our passion and that which inspires us, we inspire others, stirring their intuition which says, “This is worthy of my support.”  Dare to live from this space of passion and inspiration.  Dare to lead with your heart.  It will light the flame in others.

3 – Fear contracts, love expands – Having put in our 10,000 hours of live performance, it’s fun and amazing to me that I still get butterflies in my stomach sometimes before performing.  It’s reserved for special occasions mostly (like our recent audition for The Voice) or when I’m trying something new on stage.  Yet, every time I’m vulnerable on stage and in life, I grow.  On stage it feels as if there’s nothing beneath you and you are falling over the edge of a cliff and suddenly, it goes perfect and you’re not falling but flying.  In life it’s more subtle: the chance to be wrong as a parent or admitting to being petty with your spouse.  These moments always, always make me like more of the person I want to be in life: authentic, loving, compassionate and grateful.  In the case with my child, I usually end up getting the best hug ever, with the spouse, I no longer need to hide what scares me and on stage, the applause of hundreds of people cheering my success.  So ask yourself, “Does this feel like contraction or expansion?”  Fear or Love?  I CHOOSE LOVE!

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