Posts tagged ‘relationships’

The price of personal freedom

“If you can be lonely, you can be free.” ~ James Taylor

I was listening to Artist Confidential on the Sirius Coffeehouse channel yesterday which featured a one hour Q & A with and live acoustic performance by James Taylor. I’ve always enjoyed the smooth acoustic quality of his voice and his song writing style. It was a very personal interview and performance. The question was asked what advice would James have for new artists trying to make a career as a professional musician. James said that it used to be that there were a million people trying to get into the room, but now there are a million people in the room trying to be heard, due to the changes in recording industry and the internet.

He said that you have to learn to live as simply as you can with as little as possible while you’re trying to get started, specifically 1) avoid developing a major drug habit which consumes your life and talent, 2) put off having children until you’re ready for the responsibility of a parent, and 3) avoid getting yourself overloaded in debt. Then he went on to summarize by saying, “If you can be lonely, you can be free.”

I understand what he meant in the context of what he said, but it has huge implications beyond aspiring artists and to life as a whole.  There have often been times in life when obligations and expectations can be overwhelming and suffocate you. There are times when you just want to run away from them all and lighten the load on your shoulders, if even for a little while. The truth is that relationships carry responsibilities. They require effort, availability, and vulnerability, and when either of those essentials is lacking the relationship suffers. I suppose that statement could well be reversed to say, “You can be free, if you can be lonely.” 

I’ve always immensely enjoyed time alone, solitude and silence are nearly priceless in today’s culture, especially given the noise level, but after awhile silence can become deafening. Being a father, a husband, a son, a brother, and a friend comes with responsibilities, none of which lend themselves to neglect for long. I suppose what I’m getting at is that this quote is as much a warning as a poignant observation. The freedom that you may long for, the grassy hills that look so green in the distance, is a barren lonely place that you get to only after paying a price. Instead, we should learn to cultivate our own space, our own person, and attain a measure of freedom within our circles of responibilities.


Words That Must Be Spoken

ShoutWhen I first started this blog in December 2005, I chose the title based upon Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken. I’ve used this outlet to talk about everything from my years as a pastor, to gardening, to wines, movies, books, and of course politics. I’ve been reflecting the last few days on relationships, mine and others, which have gone awry. To oversimplify complex problems, it seems that much of the friction that I have observed between people is the result of words left unspoken.

Things need to be said, but most importantly the right things need to be said. Too often we dance around the issue and assume communication is taking place. None of us are mind readers. Not only do certain things need to be said to another, but they must also be spoken soon. The longer you wait to say them, the harder they become to verbalize.

I’m a bit of an odd duck, I know, but I’d rather have heated words than silence. Sometimes the situation can be resolved on the other side of an argument but seldom after silence. Part of this is inherited behavior. My wife’s family talks about nothing. They watch t.v. by leaning over to see around the 2 ton elephant in the middle of the room. My family talks about everything, even if not always politely. I prefer the latter. At least everything is laid on the table. It’s seemed to work for these 31 years of my life, because we all still get along even if we don’t always agree.

What I mean to say more than anything in this post is that words matter. Your words matter. Say them. Say them often. Say them soon. Scream them if you must, but say what must be said not only for the health of your relationships but for the sake of your own sanity. Tell someone you love that you love them. Then tell them again as often as you can. Tell someone that’s hurt you that it hurts. Tell someone heading for trouble that you care enough to warn them. You never know when you’ll have one last chance. Don’t let words that must be spoken go unsaid.

May I have this dance?

“Whatever relationships you have attracted in your life at this moment, are precisely the ones you need in your life at this moment. There is a hidden meaning behind all events, and this hidden meaning is serving your own evolution.” ~ Deepak Chopra 

Life has taught me again and again both the immeasurable value and incredible frailty of relationships. Flipping through the scrapbook of our memories there are fading photographs that grow more precious with every turning page. Our hearts are warmed with thankfulness for each life who has touched our own.

People enter our stage and dance a while, some for a song and some for a night. Today we take a picture of this moment and see new faces and familiar friends. The company of lovers and the laughter of children are sweet. This is a day unto itself not to be enjoyed the same again. For each soul who touches mine today, for each soul my own might touch, I give thanks and listen.

To be admired or To be known

“Living out of the false self creates a compulsive desire to present a perfect image to the public so that everybody will admire us and nobody will know us.” ~ Brennan Manning, The Rabbi’s Heartbeat

I can’t say that there was a time in my life when I tried to portray myself as anything more than what I am, but there have been plenty of times when people have assumed me to be more than I am. While I have never intentionally embellished my persona to win the approval of others, I certainly never offered my weaknesses and failures for public consumption. No, we keep those close to our chest. So my silence indicts me still.

Our sense of what really matters goes through an evolution as we continue to grow. Like all humans I spent the better portion of my life hoping to be liked, to be accepted. Realizing what was required to be accepted by some people, I opted to be considered odd by those in hopes of counting others as friends. I grew more and more comfortable being my own person, but enjoying the favor of others never grew tiresome.

I lived too long with a flawed belief that if people really knew me, the real me, that they wouldn’t like me. Regarding some that’s probably true, but I came to painfully learn that those who despised me most were those that did not really know me at all. For the last few years it seems for me the sum of life’s purpose is to know and to be known. At this point in my life I would much rather be known than to be accepted. If those that take the time to truly know me also choose to accept me, I will not think more of myself but will think most highly of them.