This is my 4th trip overseas with my band. But my 6th trip overseas. When I was 14 I went to Austria, Hungary and Romania with the Fort Worth Youth Orchestra. And in 2008 I went to China for my day job. But one thing that has always struck me is that we are all so different but still the same.
I have very little idea of what anyone is saying. Of course, most everyone here speaks English, so communication is relatively easy. But my sets here are filled with my original material. I wonder how much of the lyrics anyone understands?
We played our first set yesterday at the festival. It went well for our first time playing together. I performed as I usually do – putting my heart and soul out there. As a good friend once said, “Leslie sings every note she feels and feels every note she sings.”
And a woman at the front of the stage looked at her friend and put her hand on her heart. And I could tell that she was telling her that I felt what I was singing.
The thing is: we don’t have to speak the same language. We don’t have to have the same skin color. We don’t have to be of the same gender. We don’t have to have the same sexual orientation. We don’t have to have anything in common in order to connect. But we do have to feel.
I understand ideologies. I understand “values” and “beliefs”. I understand “morality” as many people define it. But if we cannot feel, we cannot connect. And if we cannot connect, we lose our humanity. And our humanity is what allows us to see each other as smaller parts of a bigger whole. Through our humanity, we look at each other, not as adversaries or sinners or infidels or enemies, but as brothers and sisters and wives and husbands and sons and daughters. Our humanity allows us to see our similarities and not our differences. We see that we are made of skin, muscles, blood and bones. We hurt. We cry. We laugh. We are the same.
You have to forgive me. I think on these things as an extremist took 76 lives here in Norway. Regardless of whether he is certifiably insane or not, there is no doubt that at some point he lost his ability to feel for others.
In my opinion, this is why there are those of us that are drawn to live music – we long to connect to others. We feel and music helps us feel. And there are few things more powerful than a performer onstage feeling a song and having us feel the song with them.
Yes, teach your children values. Teach them ideologies. Teach them your myths that help them understand the world around them. But for God’s sake, teach them how to feel. Teach them music and poetry and art. Help them understand the human side of their spirit that allows us all to connect.
Because we need to connect.