I believe that common themes occur in your life to lead you to lessons and answers if you will listen. Lately, I have encountered the recurring theme of individuality.
My youngest son is 10 years old. He is a very physical child. He struggles in school. He was not designed to sit at a desk for 7-8 hours a day. But he is growing up in a world where the learning environment is geared towards one type of learner. The challenge as a parent is not only how to make a child successful in that environment, but how to encourage them to maintain the integrity of their soul and not give in to feelings of inadequacy. How do I make a child who is failing not feel like a failure?
We have conversations about his strengths and interests. And I remind him as much as I can that he is the only combination of cells, matter, and personality that will ever exist. He is unique. As far back and human history has gone and as far into the future it will exist, there will never be another him. Never.
It is an idea that has always intrigued me.
Somehow a conversation came about with my almost 14 year old daughter about my life choices – my failed relationships, my decisions that have impacted and continue to influence her life. I told her my view of Life is that we each weave our own blankets (my mother has a friend that croches afghans and baby blankets). Each decision we make and each situation we encounter in our life (whether good or bad) takes us to a different place – adds a different color to make our blanket uniquely our own. I told her that it was exciting if you think about it – you can look behind you and see what your life has become and you can look ahead and see the endless possibilities of where it will go. The key is to remember in the hard times and struggles that this is your own. This is YOU. This is where you are to take you further along self-discovery.
Embracing your individuality and uniqueness is difficult and is a constant battle. Society pressures you to conform. People around you (and yes, most of the time it is people that are the most close to you and that love you) try to mold you into their own notions of what you should be or influence decisions you make. They forget that those are their colors – those threads are not theirs to choose. They cannot weave your tapestry. And if you allow it, you end up with a blanket that does not fit – one that cannot surround your true soul.
But accepting your individuality can be almost terrifying. A friend and I joke about how dysfunctional musicians are. . . . can you blame us? We live in the fear constantly. Try getting onstage in front of an audience that doesn’t like you and makes fun of you. Try releasing an album and hearing negative criticism from real critics or just a guy sitting at a bar. Getting pointed at, made fun of, criticized and put down don’t encourage authenticity. You just want to crawl in a hole. And after years of struggle, many artists just conform. Play what “the crowd” wants to hear.
Fear brings some of us to anesthetize ourselves with alcohol, drugs or food. For others it causes us to join groups and lose our identity in those groups. For others, a significant relationship is enough to get lost in – claiming the identity that the other person lays out for us.
But for those of us that stand, we stand up and remind ourselves daily who we are. We remind ourselves of our journey and our path. We remember that we are taking a series of steps. And our boyfriend or girlfriend or flavor of the month is not always going to understand the step we’re on. We are the only ones that see the bigger picture. It is our blanket and we are using our own threads.
This album that we are mixing this week is different. It is a different progression of “Miss Leslie”. I don’t know why. I don’t know why I have written some of the songs I have written. I understand them in some ways lyrically, but musically I don’t know where they came from. Soul depth is all I know. And truly, that is good enough for me.
A good friend, who has a great musical ear, describes it as country with an edge. I hope that people like it. I hope that it will be heard. But I keep that fear around me and remember WHO I AM. Someone close to me may not like what I do. The whole world may not understand. But these are my colors, my blanket, and my tapestry. 100 years from now my great, great, great granddaughter will run across a picture of me online and tell her Mom, “Hey did you know my great, great, great grandmother played the violin?” Maybe they will find out more. Maybe they won’t. But I was here. And I weaved a tapestry. And it was mine.
Stand up. Embrace who you are. Be who you are. Love who you are. Ain’t nobody like you. And honey, that’s a good thing.