Be generous

There are a lot of well-meaning people out there with bad advice. There are things that come easy to you that come to others with difficulty or not at all. Don’t take that for granted. 

If you have a vision for yourself, don’t be surprised when people around you can’t see it. The vision was only given to you. It’s not their vision, it’s yours. 

Remember that your vision is not a gift that you have been given, but a gift for you to give. Following your vision and bringing it out of your head and into the world is an act of generosity.

Be generous.

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Room at The Top

I’m an obsessive music listener. It’s just what I do. Right now I’m obviously and absolutely stuck on Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ 1999 album Echo. 

I remember years ago Jesse Thompson used “Room at The Top” as a reference for one of our first recordings. I only knew Tom Petty from his greatest hits. This was new and strange, and out of sync with what I knew of Tom. I didn’t like it, and I didn’t want to sound anywhere close to it.

Now I can’t stop listening to it. It took some time for me to find out what he was talking about. 

Now when I hear Tom sing, “I got a room where everyone can have a drink and forget the things that went wrong in their life,” I want to believe him and I want to be there with him.

When he sings, “I got someone who loves me tonight. I got over a thousand dollars in the bank and I'm all right,” I know what that’s worth.

The longing and the fantasy, the contradiction between the way things are and the way I wish they could be. The thrashing against reality. It’s all there, and it’s beautiful.

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I just started

This is my 106th blog post in as many days. When I started I didn’t have any plan for how long I would keep this up. I just started. 

That’s what I needed. As a self-diagnosed perfectionist I want to iron out all of the details before I make my first move. This has killed me over the years. Ideas indefinitely delayed or abandoned. 

Perfect is the enemy of done.

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Even if it feels weird

I’m not wired to keep a schedule. I like to stay free until the last minute. That’s a fine way to live as long as someone else is keeping the schedule. 

I realized that I’m not making the kind of progress that I’d like to in parts of my life that I really care about. So I decided to do something different. I bought a notebook. I started using the Bullet Journal system. 

It was unnatural, but I started getting things done. I can literally see the progress I make as I check off tasks and flip through the daily entries. 

I’ve blogged every day since April 10, and I didn’t realize until today that last week I passed 100 posts.

I’m not done yet, but it feels good to be making progress. Even if it also feels weird.

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Explore. Discover. Wonder.

Garry’s comedy was different from the beginning.

I started watching The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling last weekend. One of the most profound segments so far was when one of his friends pointed out that from the early days of his stand-up, Garry’s act was different than his peers. Most comics had answers. Garry on the other hand would get on stage and tell you about the questions that he had found.

If you already have the answers there is no need to explore. If you don’t need to explore you don’t get to discover. If there’s nothing to discover there is no wonder.

Without inquiry there is no revelation. 

[note: For the last week the Mailchimp feature that sends this blog out as a daily email was broken. If you didn't get the email, check out the blog. Even though the email wasn't sending, I posted every day.]

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Won't you be glad?

"Could you try not aiming so much?" - Seymour Glass

In one of my favorite, slow-burning J.D. Salinger stories, Buddy Glass’s older brother Seymour coaches him on playing marbles. Buddy is trying hard to perfectly aim his next shot when Seymour makes the point that if Buddy hits his target he’ll be glad, betraying that Buddy “sort of secretly didn't expect too much to do it.”

This story has come to mind lately when I listen to Echo by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. In his biography and in the documentary, Tom distances himself from this album. It was a low point in his life when he was battling opioid addiction and going through divorce. He couldn’t contribute the same kind of focus and intensity he usually put into a Heartbreakers record. He wasn’t aiming so much. He thought it was terrible.

The result is an intimate, tender record with more vulnerability than just about anything else he ever did. It wasn’t a hit record, but maybe because he wasn’t aiming so hard it hits right in the heart.


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No other way

I wrote about it, but I haven’t talked with David about his new single Grand Theft Cosmos. From his stop-motion music video I get the sense that it’s about recovery. 

A love begins in beauty and innocence. It is your sunshine. It is your day. 

There is a break. 

By all appearances the world is coming to an end. The sky has fallen.

And then the sun rises again. Spring comes. New growth appears. What looked like death is discovered to be renewal. You look back and realize that you would not have chosen this route on your own, but it has led you somewhere beautiful that you would not have found any other way. 

And so you can sing, “No regrets. No regrets. Cannot answer what comes next.”

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The best in the world

Charlie Watts has a great gig. He also has some regrets.

For nearly 60 years he has been the drummer for The Rolling Stones. He’s been called the best in rock and he has countless imitators. Yet there is a video from ‘08 where he states as fact that one of the faults in his playing is that he never learned to play. 

Who gave him permission to become the best in the world? Where are his credentials?

He didn’t get to be the best in the world by doing coursework. He watched, he imitated, and he showed up to do the work day after day, year after year.

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The real problem with the music industry

The music industry has followed the money instead of following its heart. Songs are written and published to be fit into TV shows, movies, and advertisements. 

They used to be made to fit your heart. 

Music has been made into a commodity and the industry goal is to sell new products. But there is beautiful music in the world, old and new, that helps you become a better person. Music that helps you feel more connected to your friends, your neighbors, and your own heart. Songs so full of the truth the human experience that you can listen for years and find something new each time you return.

In Following the Equator, Mark Twain wrote, “Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she laid an asteroid.”

The problem now is that there is so much well-funded noise.

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Something good this way comes

“I’ll add it to my David Smalt collection.”

David has introduced me to a lot of good things over the years I have known him. Father John Misty. Damien Jurado. “My Name is Asher Lev,” by Chaim Potok. The other day he gave me his copy of Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast.” I was joking, but what David shares with me becomes an important part of my life.

On Monday David released the first single, "Grand Theft Cosmos," form his forthcoming record, “Fragile Magic.” I’ve been enjoying the deliberate joy and meticulous energy of this record for months, and I’m so glad you can begin to experience it. This is the first of many that you can add to your own David Smalt collection, and I hope what he shares finds an important place in your life, too.

Go listen. Make sure to follow so you don't miss what comes next.

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