BRIEF BLOG INTRO: I'm a man on a mission to convince you that music is a Super Power, and that life is worth living, no matter how many obstacles are placed in your way. And that you can accomplish great things if you just push ahead and don't let anyone tell you no.

I'm a singer/songwriter and actor from Texas who is "Living in the Bonus Round" in New York City-- having cheated death from AIDS. (In a game show, the Bonus Round is where time speeds up and the prizes are better.) Accepting my death changed me. Now, I'm consuming life as quickly and as fully as I can, while still taking time to breathe and appreciate every single day as an utter miracle.

In 2013, I turned 60 and I created a set of goals, all of which came true, including composing -- and performing in -- a Mass, recording a solo album (selling 10s of copies), headlining to a sold out house at a major night club in New York City (while getting great reviews). Now I'm out to redefine theater and cabaret. I update a few times a month these days, and I don't spam. So it's easier to keep up with me by following by Email. When this blog began, it was to track my death. I'm told it was the first AIDS blog. You can start at the gruesome beginning if you want. Or just jump in and maybe we can learn some life lessons together. Welcome to the Bonus Round. I'm Steve [SHACK-lin] and we're just getting started.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Seed Planting.

Yesterday, blogger Seth Godin wrote another of his profound blog entries about seed planting. In time of scarcity, the harvest become fraught with competition and danger. But if enough seeds are planted during that time, the season of fear will pass and a season of plenty will soon come.

When the Righteous Mothers and I sang our concert in Olympia, Washington, I wasn't physically doing so well. When the strep throat -- or whatever it was -- came on, it was all I could do to croak my way through the show. My mind was on my misery, though we had a wonderful bonding experience, the audience, the other singers and I.

 But, as if by magic, an idea formed in the head of someone who was there purely by happenstance, who had never heard of me.

How often can we brag we not merely inspired someone, but that we inspired an artist? One of those special kinds of persons who take one thing and turn it into something else.

It's something everyone can do, even if it's just planting a seed of kindness. But it also got me to thinking that we plant seeds every day, all day long, whether we know it or not. And those seeds bear plants that grow long roots in the brains and lives of others.

I was too sick to remember much of that night. But Sally Penley heard a message about bullying and hate, and the next thing you know, she's at a meeting of the world's calligraphers signing people up to create art around words related to bullying and violence -- and peace and harmony.

And thus, we have "Out Of The Silence." But I didn't just grab that seed out of nowhere.

The seed I planted had been planted in me by Gabi Clayton and her desire to memorialize her son's suicide by reaching out to other disaffected youth who were victims of violence and bullying.

And I have no doubt that Out Of The Silence will plant more seeds.

Speaking of seeds, just as I was quoting Seth's blog, he writes this terrific post about bullying, and how it survives because institutions and bureaucracies thrive on conformity. Bullies are conformity's unofficial enforcers. How often has the victim been told, "Well, if you didn't walk that way" or "talk that way," there would have been no problem.

Which is, of course, a lie. The bully will simply find something else to attack. The victim is not the problem. 
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