In an attempt to find rest and relaxation, I found inspiration and motivation.
That wasn't quite what I was looking for during last week's vacation. I had a week off to enjoy time on the coast and get away from the world. I had some reading and writing to do and a beautiful place to do it - accompanied by a flock of honking geese that would fill most evenings.
I think any time I have a week off, I hope to be revitalized afterward but this renewal came from things I didn't expect. Some of my favorite artists spoke to me through their example as did a legendary hockey coach. It all makes me excited to be me and live the life I'm living.
It started with a DVD I just got in the mail, a documentary about Canadian singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn. I've seen Cockburn at least eight times. I've recently realized this commonality between some of my favorite artists like Cockburn, Mark Heard, Buddy Miller or Richard Shindell. They're all poets and prophets. They're music and their words are rooted in the power of their convictions. They can write with a brutal honesty or a subtle feeling from the heart. They're not preaching but offering a perspective for the world to see and learn from.
In Cockburn's song If I Had A Rocket Launcher, he writes "If I had a rocket launcher, some son of a bitch would die," and in Call It Democracy he says "you don't give a flying f$%k about people in misery." Yet, he writes the absolutely gorgeous words in Look How Far.
"So many miles, so many doors. Some need patience, some need force. All fall open in their own due course. To allow us this time.
And you're limned. In light, golden and thin. Looks to me. Like you're lit up from within.
And look how far the light came. Look how far the light came. Look how far the light came. To paint you. This way.
And I picture us in this light. Friendship a fine silver web. Stretched across golden smoky haze. And this is simple. And this is grace.
And this light. Is a guest from far away. Passing through. The last whisper of day."
Cockburn is a Christian but exists outside the mainstream. He unabashedly writes what he thinks and feels as he informs and inspires that follow his work.
Reflecting on him and his music, it make me want to write deeper and with power and conviction. I realize that I tend to already to do that but it gave me a clearer picture as to why. Whether I'm writing a significant feature for the newspaper or writing a new novel or throwing thoughts into this blog, my goal isn't simply to provide entertainment and something to read. I don't want my words to be disposable. I want them to reach you and reverberate and last. I want to make you think. I want to make you feel. I want to touch you and inspire you. Simply put, I want to make a difference. I want to be my own kind of prophet, speaking my truth to all who have ears to hear it.
Later in the week, I tossed in my Peter Gabriel concert DVD. I couldn't stand the song Sledgehammer when I first heard it. His music challenged me a little at first and it took me some time to accept it. I've seen him three times and am yearning to see him again. By opening my mind to his craft, I've learned so much and made tremendous discoveries in music and in myself.
It just so happened that the following night, I watched a documentary on George Harrison, my favorite Beatle. First, I realized that it was Harrison that was my first introduction to world music, which ultimately blossomed when I started listening more and more to Peter Gabriel. Secondly, I'm always inspired when I hear about Harrison's desire to be more than just a Beatle or a famous musician. He wanted to live a deeper and more meaningful life. In the documentary, his wife, Olivia, says that he lived by the idea that to prove worthy of God's love, you must display a love of yourself and the world around you. Those are like marching orders to my soul every time I hear them.
Then at the end of the week, for the fun of it, I tossed in the movie Miracle. The story of the 1980 Olympic hockey team always moves me. I had the great pleasure of interviewing coach Herb Brooks when he was coaching in the American Hockey League. I'm just glad the movie didn't exist then because I'd have been terrified to go on the team bus to talk to him.
I often live his words "you prepare for the unknown" in life, trying to make myself better and ready for the journey on which God is calling me.
In the movie, Brooks tells his players that they are ordinary men but that they can do extra ordinary things. It was their time to do just that. Watching that made me want to beat the Russians myself.
I want to be beyond ordinary, at least in the things that I do and the work that I produce. It isn't out of ego or a desire to make tons of money but from a want to make an impact. I can feel all the potential and great things God has in mind for me. Sometimes, I have no idea what that is, but it is there and within my grasp. And I'm reaching for it.
I'm proud to say that I feel like I've been doing all that already. I heard a comment yesterday about how somebody's greatness can be determined by reflecting on what life or things would be like without them. I started doing the George Bailey thing and looking at what life around me would be like without my fingerprints. I was pleased to realize a pretty good impact that I've had on the world around me.
But I'm not done yet. I'm still finding inspiration. I'm still finding motivation. I'm still learning. I'm still growing. And it all speaks to bigger and better things. I was meant to be here. And this is my time.