I’m struggling with what has happened in the last few days in the town I have called home since 2005. My sincerest condolences go out to all those taken from us, injured, or impacted by the senseless and unacceptable violence that occurred.
It is my belief that musicians trade the sacrifice of time and energy for the ability to bring people together to create memories in a life that someone can love. This is so important because the world can really beat people down and I feel that the scarcity of decency and compassion towards each other creates an environment where people can feel so much pain and feel so disconnected from the rest of us that they resolve to make others feel as bad as they do by inflicting senseless violence on others and destroying innocent life.
I have become aware recently that my mission in life all along has been to help others feel as good as I do if not better by pushing the happiness life and music provide for me into the world. Over the years I’ve wrestled with what to do in life with my passion for music. I’ve tried to abandon it and move on like a responsible adult. I’ve tried to pretend that I don’t want to play every day and want to waste my life as a corporate drone.
I stopped lying to myself about what I wanted from life and began to see everything I thought was a challenge fall away and the music I was involved with get better and more rewarding. It was if life said sure you want that, here you go. This made me happy. The happier I got the more I wanted to do for others because everything I wanted was already in my life. I started to notice the more I stayed connected to this feeling the more I enjoyed everything around me and the more the people around me enjoyed being there.
It dawned on me during a recent conversation that the deal I made for the ability to make music means I have to create music for people to find in the hopes that it can be a part of their good time that makes a great memory in a life they love so they can push their happiness into the world. I feel there can never be too much and with all that is going on these days, don’t we need every ounce of positive energy out there to nourish our collective soul in a positive way?
This realization didn’t turn fascinating until I realized that every musician that has pushed passed that point of deciding to play has made that same commitment for the ability to create music. It is because of this bond among musicians the pointless murder of Christina Grimmie absolutely crushed me.
I had never heard of her or her music before the news of her attack scrolled across the screen Friday night, but just from the reports on the news about how she brought joy to people with her music I knew she was a sister in arms trying to help people find the sweet spot in this life to reduce the overall suck in the world.
The fact that this tragedy happened at one of my favorite venues in town it just made the situation worst. I’ve performed and enjoyed shows on countless occasions at the Plaza over the years. One of dozens of close friends I cherish could have easily been in harm’s way. This scared me.
I immediately started thinking about when I had heard Ralph had been shot. That same dull throbbing pain returned to my chest. That lump in my throat was enormous and anger started to get the better of me. I thought about cancelling our show on Saturday. I thought about never leaving my house again. I thought about a lot of things until calm came over me and I realized that what pulled my back together was picking up the pieces and going on. I remembered I have to continue the work to create good feelings for others. I have to dedicate myself to creating music so awesome that people have to enjoy themselves and have fun with their friends, even if it is just for a little while to offset all that can go wrong.
This made me feel better about performing Saturday night. I summoned all the courage I could find and decided to go on. I would dedicate my work and my support of the work of other musicians to help fill this void because with the ability to create music there is the responsibility and the privilege to put the awesome back in it for others to enjoy.
Saturday went on and could not have been better. All of the bands worked together and produced a great show. I had so much fun and saw so many people have so much fun. I got confirmation while packing up that this renewed focus to making awesome music paid off. A couple explained how much the enjoyed the set. I could see the genuine joy in their faces and felt so rewarded for all the work we had done and in some small way felt we had made a contribution to balance the tragedy from the night before with the best life can be. Many thanks go to Ryan, Greg, Zach, Patrick, the other bands, the staff at Will’s and everyone who came out or helped make the Copper Bones Album Release Party so AWESOME!
So I get home after the set and start listening to the audio from our performance and nod off to sleep. I wake up the next morning and realize the worst shooting in American history happened a handful of miles from my home in another night spot were people get together to have fun. After checking up on my circle of friends all the negative feelings and fears from the day before came back. I couldn’t watch anymore of the coverage about what had happened.
The difference between Saturday morning and Sunday is that instead of feeling really bad all day long, I felt more determined than ever to produce positive value for others in any way possible to offset the crap we can do to each other in our moments of weakness. The Orlando community took this gut punch, shook it off, and said nope we don’t tolerate hate in our city end of discussion. I have never been more proud of the people in this city. We stood in our truth of being an inclusive and diverse community that treats everyone with respect and declared emphatically nothing will make us hate.
Despite the daily tragedies, life can be made beautiful and awesome if someone chooses to put the love that is in their heart into the world. Be the positive influence you want to see in the world. I choose to be one of the people who appreciate, support, and respect life unconditionally at all times, not just on certain days of the week at certain times at certain places for certain people.
Please stay safe as you pursue your happiness because we appreciate and love you!