Friday, January 15, 2010

Let's Get Engaged

Recently over an unexpected dinner with friends, I asked the person across from me if he played piano daily. His response was an enthusiastic, "I can't imagine not playing every day." He spoke of the peace he experiences when he's lost in making music, how at times he's transported to another realm.

I had two thoughts. I wondered aloud as to how many people really have a passion or pursuit that they can't imagine not doing daily. I also confessed that I don't feel about my craft, writing, the way he feels about his.

Think about it. What in your life can you imagine not getting to experience every day even if just for fifteen minutes?

As our conversation continued, we talked about the role television and computers have played over the years in lessening our sense of true engagement with life. I say true engagement because I don't consider reacting and arguing as often happens in political goings-on as real engagement. Instead we fall prey to sound bites delivered by opposing sides invested ultimately in our not thinking for ourselves. I just heard Americans spend an average of five hours watching television daily. Isn't this called engaging one's butt with the sofa rather than one's heart and mind with life?

I fell asleep that night pondering engaged living. I awoke the next morning thinking of those past and present who inspire us to aspire to living fully engaged. Anthropologist Margaret Meade was actually the first person who crossed my mind. I've heard Jean Houston say Margaret lived with an attitude of expectancy. It seems she brought into her life whatever she needed at the time because she simply expected to receive not unlike the Biblical directive: Ask and you shall receive.

While making note of this, I came across a scrap of paper on which I had recently scribbled something while watching the Kennedy Center Honors. In recognizing Bruce Springsteen the presenter said Bruce "always empties his tank" in reference to the level of Bruce's giving and living whether he's helping someone, supporting a cause or performing on stage. This is someone who's definitely engaged with living his life.

John Hendricks the Father of Vocalese then crossed my mind. Considered by some the best jazz singer on the planet Mr. Hendricks is known for applying sounds and words to instrumental jazz hits sometimes actually substituting his voice as the instrument.) A couple of years ago I saw Mr. Hendricks in concert. He invited the small crowd in the large venue to come close irregardless of our ticket price. This eighty-something year old man danced and yabba, dippity, bee bopped his way through jazz greats, his body the instrument, never missing a beat. At the concerts end I found myself shaking his hand as he leaned from the stage. Actually he kissed my hand as I in tears thanked him for his performance. I'll never forget what happened next. He said, "I do this because it is good for my heart." What do you do that's good for your heart?
Co opted by drug commercials, many folks today would think Mr. Hendricks was referencing a new cholesterol lowering drug.

Many of the people who came to mind used their musical passion as a doorway to enagement with life. Later the same year while in San Francisco, I serendipitously heard Carlos Santana and Bonnie Raitt in a benefit at Grace Cathedral for R&B singer Angela Bofill. While entering the church to walk the labyrinth, I noticed a sign outside that read: Santana, Raitt Saturday evening. Tickets inside. I laugh about my limited capacity to recognize bands for 60's and 70's songs but there was no mistaking who these two were and there was no missing them since tickets were only $20.

The following night my friend Vivia and I stood yards from the stage in this magnificent church as Carlos Santana transported us into the musical ethers. It was yet again what was said that impacted me most. Between songs, Santana shared that although he loved making music, his greatest mission was finding ways to be of service to the world. He then challenged each of us to find our particular way of being of service in the world.

These four people as well as my friend Bob challenge me to examine how engaged or disengaged I am with life. I want to have a passion, as Bob does, that I can't imagine not doing daily. I want to wake up each morning and go to bed each night with an attitude of expectancy like Margaret had. I want to be consumed like John with living in such a way that is good for my heart whether my words are dancing across a page or I'm just bee, bop, deesinging in the shower. I want to find my mission in the world as Carlos urged and until and when I do I want to give from the bottomless universe from which Bruce lives and gives.

Think about it. We have these mulit-sensoried bodies, hearts and minds wired for interaction with others and the environment around us. We've the capacity for so much more than we realize. How would your days be different if you lived with an attitude of expectancy, if you intentionally did things that were good for your heart? What would you do that you can't imagine not getting to do daily? How would you and your life be different if you emptied your tank through serving with joy? Your tank would never really empty, would it?

I've struggled with how to end this story because it seems rich with so much to consider. I remind myself I can always reengage it at any time and for now I have at least a fun and thought provoking proposal. What do you say? Let's get engaged.

Imagine the shift if we each became engaged with more fully living our life each day.
-Dawn! The Good News Muse 01/10

1 comment:

Vikki said...

Dawn, Thank you for opening my mind and heart to what really matters. Your words inspire and enlighten me. I feel blessed to read your musings and take them into my heart.