WHAT'S YOUR STORY?

What’s Your Story?

 

What’s your story? We all have one. And each one is unique. Or is it? You are one person among billions, so certainly it’s to be expected that you’ll find commonalities with others. But looking at it from the other side, the inside of things, nobody on this planet has your view of the world or what it’s like to live on it. From behind those goggles on the front of your head, you see, hear, feel, and interpret your own private little human experience in a way that absolutely no one can completely understand. Ever. True, right? But what about this moment: The one where, on a whim, you say to a friend, “Hey, you know when blah blah blah?” and they respond with “Yeah totally!” We’re naturally excited by this because, why? Our friend gets us? Of course our friend gets us! They’re our friend. But it also excites us from a level at which we're far more deeply linked. We comprehend, in some distant corner of our vast yawning mind, the truly remarkable connections we all have. Now step away. Take a breather to think, feel, and observe from a separate place. Context. Perspective. It’s like rain. You can complain about it. Or, you can think about how mind-blowing it is that this precious resource, required for life to exist on Earth, actually falls from the sky.

 


Taking this idea of the unique view of the human condition we each have and looking it over from a purely creative standpoint is worthwhile, too. I write songs. With each one I write, I am expressing from my space in the world and mine alone. I seek ways to describe the emotions I experience, to explain the things I see happening in the outer world from this little inner world. I hope someone gets it. I'm convinced I have a view nobody else on the planet sees or feels. But I dare to share it anyway. I know it’s a risk, putting my music out there and expecting anyone agrees with my take on things. And then it happens. Someone sends me a message or comments online or approaches me at a show. They express how this or that tune speaks to them. Or they post a picture of my album while they’re cleaning house or hanging with friends or simply enjoying their day. They’re thanking me for telling their story, for filling in where words fail, for doing the emoting. This is the miracle of the arts. The gift I give others. And it happens daily. The gift I give myself is the courage to share, the wits to open up my experience to anyone who’ll listen. It feels like a gift to me because I actually enjoy the hell out of letting you in. I don’t mind being the artist under observation. I recognize something subtle moving into something beautiful. This is the place where our individual stories combine to create bigger ones. This is when we feel less alone and more connected.

 


They say our stories are our culture. Today our culture is changing at an amazing, some would say alarming, rate. Science and technology are altering the human condition. Power is shifting constantly. Identities are being blurred. Huge challenges are facing humanity. As the world becomes more deeply connected and more heavily crowded all at once, everyone’s looking for their sense of self in a psychic fog. As this all progresses, some are standing stubbornly on old ways in the guise of dogmatic tradition. They cling to their fictions in fear of losing themselves to some unseen displacement, a dystopian threat, or an imagined upheaval. Others are stomping at the ground declaring they be recognized as someone new, advocating their identities loudly, though they’ve been here all along and forced into the shadows for fear. They’re claiming their place in the light. And others won’t share it. There's no dialogue. Only screaming. It’s getting pretty loud in here. But, we’ll make it. I have no doubt. There’s plenty of light. We all share an unlimited source of life. And nobody said we have to like every story we hear. Nobody said we all have to just get along. They asked why we can’t. We don't actually have to. Not completely. We can stop yelling and begin singing. This is when cacophony becomes harmony. We can recognize differences without taking flame-throwers to the past or denying our imminent future. We all have space if we just give it to each other. We can marvel at the opportunities we have to see a world of distinctness, rather than burn the place to the ground in favor of a monoculture. We can stand and stare askance with no understanding of another. It’s okay. We each have our own story is all. Each of us is righteous in our own mind and heart in any given moment. Until we come to realize otherwise. Then we may choose to make efforts to change. But, if we can’t feel safe enough to even share our story, how can we ever realize otherwise. For example, all I’m doing here is writing out my story. I don’t expect more than a handful of people to relate to it or agree with it. But I do it anyway. I write it out. I say it aloud. I may make it part of my songs. I do this because I like experiencing daily miracles. I do this because I'm a communicator. I do this because I believe wholeheartedly in open dialogue. I do this because I'm reminded of our shared story, the story of humankind.

 


Consider this. The simple fact that every day all over the world there are people relating through music and the arts without ever knowing each other says a lot. Somewhere there’s someone listening to the same song as you right now. That someone is completely different from you. If the two of you met, you might never get along or agree on anything. You might even feel disdain for each other. And yet, you just experienced the miracle of the arts in music. You connected through the same emotive conduit in a place beyond conscious awareness. Beyond tradition. Beyond dogma. Beyond national boundaries or law. You both found the same song could tell your story in the same moment. When there are millions of possibilities in each life moment, this is pretty remarkable. Start there. Begin with that moment. Shake hands or nod at each other loosely. Walk away and never speak again. Or completely ignore each other. Whatever. But it happened. And I can’t think of many greater proofs of our shared humanity than moments like this.
What’s your story? How do you share it? Who tells it for you? Who tells it with you? What's your story?

 

-Phil

 

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