Sunday, September 08, 2013

Service. Community. Adventure.

It has become this mantra for me. Ever since I experienced it at the World Domination Summit, those three words just keep ringing and ringing in my ear.

My most immediate, daily, adventure is my health. My new running/exercise routine is having startlingly strong effects on my body. Feeling good really can be thought of as an adventure when you're physically or mentally down. It takes a conscious effort to, every day, make the choice to live. To grow. To learn.

My new album is also an adventure.

But what am I doing in terms of service? One thing is my volunteer work singing in the church choir. There are also other things I do, such as helping friends with tedious tasks. I like being useful. Does that make sense? Like stuffing envelopes or stapling things.

And then, finally, community. Where is my own personal community? In this world of connectedness, I belong to many communities. My close personal friends are one. But I feel just as close to my cyber friends. I always have. Given the fact that I was doing this before almost anyone else, I was able to develop deep friendships across great divides, back when we were all innocents here on the Net. Before it became a corporate whatever it is today.

One thing is sure, though, and they don't teach you this in high school or at home, you really do choose your community. You hand pick your friends. And what I have found myself doing is hand picking people who are smarter than me, better looking than me, younger and older than me, more talented than me, more loving than me and more generous than me.

And then, I try to become the best parts of them. Another adventure! And what a service to mankind, to boot! To always be thinking of growth and maturity and intelligence and forward motion. What a gift that is to others around you. And how did you get it? Through service. Through community.

As I was running the other day, I was thinking about how, for instance, the adventure of the new album came about because someone did a favor for me. I realized, in retrospect, that I might not have recorded this album if not for Peter Grundy's artwork. He crystallized, without my ever having "set a meeting," everything in that image of that piano. I looked at it and said, "That is my album."

All of the lecturers at the World Domination Summit were there, volunteering their services, because that amazingly open community of -- I was gonna say "True Believers" -- but that term has negative connotations. Maybe a better word is sincere. But not naive. This is a generation that is beyond being naive. The Net has taught us all to be suspicious.

So, that image wasn't merely a connection between artist and songwriter, the environment itself of the World Domination Summit informed what Peter created. I had the lucky job of being the one musical act (except for one woman who played one song on guitar).  

The three energize each other. They create each other. The community energized the art which was a service to me, and now it gets turned into an adventure.

When people ask me how they also can "live in the bonus round," I never had a clear answer. But when I saw the words community, spirit and adventure in all the literature from the Summit, I knew I had my mantra. And it's not even mine. But that's the point. You don't have to die, or almost die, to live a remarkable life.

And, in a mundane and ordinary world, why wouldn't you want to live an remarkable life?

I saw an article recently about how young people want "to be famous," as if that's a career option. I suppose it is. In this world, it's actually quite easy to get famous if you can be weird enough. But what if you chose, instead, to opt for a remarkable life that may or may not lead to fame?

For a songwriter like me, fame is part of the equation because if people don't know who you are, they won't buy a ticket to your show. So, getting recognition is part of the job description. But that's not my goal in life. My goal is to live a remarkable life.

And though I've always kind of known how to do it, instinctively, having it set forth in three simple words is very, very helpful.

Service. Community. Adventure.

Now that's living.

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