Hard Rock hotel, late night, walking back to my room. Pass photos of famous musicians, stop and stare at them for a while. Kurt Cobain. You can see the pain in his eyes. I look at others, similar. Do all artists have to suffer?
Part of me resists when I ask the question. I don’t want the answer to be yes. But I let go, and the answer, instead, is of a different sorts. They have to experience. To live and experience life fully because when you create art, if it’s not true and real, you know.
Hemingway, Cobain. Both killed themselves. But what if they hadn’t? What if they’d gone with the experience, whatever they were feeling, whatever they were fighting, knowing that it too would pass, and left behind would be the knowledge, the gift they could put into their art.
With the wisdom of age, what else could Hemingway have written? And Cobain, perhaps he might be a poet today or even just another burned out rocker. But whatever he’d created, as long as he stayed true to his experience, it would have connected and changed lives. Just those two, what could have been…it’s sad, I will never know.
I’m old enough to have lost friends. Random deaths are tough. Suicides, the worst. I’ve also lived long enough to look back at those gone and know that whatever they were dealing with, it passed. They didn’t have to. They could have been here, wiser and stronger and better.
No matter how smart we may think we are, no matter how committed we are to our truth, we can lose our way. We’re human. Made of flesh and feelings, not armor. And knowing that, there is one thing we can do to help us, guide us back to the light when we’re fighting it the most.
Set the ego aside. Reach out, share your truth, tell someone you love, “this is who I am. This is what I stand for. Hold me to it.” Be accountable. Often, we’ll do far more for another than we will do for ourselves. Use that to your advantage.
Once, while meditating, I saw an image of my parents standing in front of me. Behind them, their parents. And their parents, and their parents, and their parents. An unbroken line of lives so long that it faded into the horizon. An unbroken line of lives that ultimately led to mine.
Then I thought of those who have touched my life. Minor and major ways. And all the lives that were lived so that just these few could exist and walk the Earth with me for a brief spark in time. Lines upon lines, connections upon connections, ripples spreading across time and generations. Humanity doing its dance so that you could be here, reading these words I just wrote.
Even if we may feel like it sometimes, we are never alone. I write this, expecting that others will read these words. I write them with the hope that they will improve your life. I am giving you my all. My truth. That you will read it is a gift to me. I may never meet you, but that’s ok. I smile, knowing that we are links in a beautiful chain connected in ways deeper than we can imagine.
Whatever you experience in your life, choose for it to make you grow in amazing and unbelievable ways. You owe it to yourself. You owe it to those who came before you. You owe it to those connected to you that you’ll never meet. You owe it to those who have yet to come into your life.