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  • Writer's pictureGary Lougher

Reinvention, Not Resolutions, Day 7: Give Us What You Got

Posted on November 21, 2010

I found this post I wrrte back in 2010 and thought it would be fun to re-post it. It mentions a few of my friends. The singer I mention here, Jeff Carpenter, died in 2013. Thanks for tme music and the lesson.

“Creative work is a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got” – Steven Pressfield from “The War of Art”

  A couple of Saturdays ago I was walking through the Nashville airport and decided to go into Tootsies for a bite before boarding my plane for LA. In keeping with the spirit of the original Tootsies of downtown Nashville, there was a country music singer performing. Normally, I love music –all kinds of music – but that day I was too preoccupied with my own “issues” to see the beauty of someone else’s art. I was in a funk over how someone else’s actions that morning had thrown me off schedule. Or should I say how I ALLOWED someone else’s actions to put me in a funk. Frankly, I was very annoyed that I had to sit there and listen to music while I ate. And then I noticed he was playing for tips and selling his CDs. And I began to think: Nobody came to this airport just to hear this guy sing country music. Then I thought about how much courage it must take to go sing where you don’t even know if people want to hear you. But people were clapping and he was very, very good! And then I became ashamed of myself for being annoyed. Ashamed because I was judging this man’s art when I should be grateful and respectful of someone for having the courage to pursue a dream. Maybe it didn’t even require courage; maybe he was absolutely fearless about it. It was amazing how, as I shifted my focus from the art to the artist, the art became even more beautiful. He sang a remarkable version of Willie Nelson’s Angel Flying to Close to the Ground. His name was Jeff Carpenter and I thank him for his music. Not being judgmental of others and myself is an area I work on constantly and I want to also thank him for helping me develop another insight on judgment.

   The next day I was walking out on the Santa Monica Pier and there were all kinds of performers on each side of the pier. Singers, keyboard players, contortionists, a guy writing people’s names on a piece of rice, a puppeteer, guitarists, clowns and I stopped at each one of them and showed them see that I admired what they were doing. I wasn’t paying any attention to whether I thought they were good at it or not or why they were doing it because it didn’t matter. I was just admiring them for their courage or fearlessness to share their creation. And as I did this, I started to feel very childlike and peaceful. The way I felt at a circus or parade when I was 6 or 7. I spent about an hour out on the end of the pier listening to a guy with a harmonica and guitar sing songs like Mr Bojangles, Starry Starry Night and the Sounds of Silence. You know when I got up to thank him, he said, “Sorry, I’m a little hoarse”. I never noticed.    

   I’m very inspired by the people in my life who share their creations. Louis “Toodlum” Quattrini, who I’ve literally known my entire life, takes some of the most beautiful photographs I’ve ever seen and posts them on Facebook daily for everyone to see. And every time I go home I take time to look at the wonderful ink drawing he made for my mom a few years ago. Vicki McSparron wrote a beautiful, touching story to honor her brother Jake for Veteran’s day and shared it on Facebook for all to see. I witnessed my friend Dan Martin create a speech on the fly that stuns me to this day. Hazaah, Dan!  And there’s Kristine Hamilton and her beautiful and interesting “Mosaics and Mobiles”, And there’s my dear friend, Mike “Benny” Henrich who everyday manages to post something on Facebook that makes me smile and grateful for the joys of everyday life. And then there’s my cousin Lynn Rosenberger who has many creative outlets, but who also recently created the opportunity to become an art teacher and support kids with their creativity. And the most thoughtful piece anyone has ever created for me are the scrapbooks my mom made for me full of pictures from my childhood. All of them carefully placed, decorated and accompanied with loving words that remind me of the love that not only surrounded me as a child, but is still there today. So keep it coming, everybody! Your creations have brought joy into my life and inspire me to do the same.

   And we don’t need to draw, write, sing, speak or take pictures to be creative. Every day there are countless opportunities to create. We all have the ability to create better or new relationships and we all have the ability to bring joy into others’ lives. These may be the most rewarding creations of all as they also bring so much joy into our own. When I was sitting in the airport that Saturday, I wrote down the following in my journal. I can think of a dozen ways to reword this but I won’t since it then wouldn’t be the same creation. “To all of those who are fearless enough to sing, dance, act, create or live and let your heart and soul lead the way, I acknowledge you!”

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