Wednesday, January 20, 2010

No 'Right' Track

I've been thinking lately about the ways in which our society directs us into particular ways of thinking and acting. Certain things are acceptable, while others are not. Values can come from many different places, such as religion, friends, families, media sources and educators. We have so many opinions coming at us at one time that it's hard to know what to believe. There is the sense though, that there exists a 'right track,' or an ideal way of living that will bring us the peace and fulfillment that we so desire. It reminds me of the song, "No Such Thing," by John Mayer:

So the good boys and girls take the so called right track
Faded white hats
Grabbing credits
Maybe transfers
They read all the books but they can't find the answers

There are certain moral values (thou shalt not kill, rob your neighbor, or illegally download music) that are important for the preservation of order in society. But other things are less clear. Is being a doctor or a lawyer really the way to salvation? If you ask any Jewish mother, of course she will tell you yes. (just kidding, Mom) We each have such unique perspectives and gifts that it seems there must be a better benchmark to determine if we are on our own 'right track.'

For myself, I have started asking the question:

"Are you doing all you can?"

This simple question gets me to focus on my own strengths. Instead of comparing myself to where others are at and feeling jealous (yes, I admit it happens...) this question brings me back to my personal journey. At the end of my life, if I can say 'yes' to this question, I will have fulfilled the purpose of my life. Yes, I wrote the best music I could. Yes, I was the best husband, father, son, friend, co-worker I could have been. Yes, I gave as much as I could to charity. Yes to whatever was truly important to me to the best of my ability. Then, I will know I was successful. Perhaps by asking this question on a daily basis, I will make my corner of the world a better place. I invite you to try it and let me know if it makes a difference for you.

If you have something that calls you to be the best person you can be, or if you'd just like to voice your opinion, I invite you to visit my blog page and share your thoughts.

I will be heading to the Boston area next week to do concerts and services in Newton and Needham. So, if you or anyone you know is back East, please come out and say hi. Check the performance schedule below for more details.

In song,


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Small Adjustments

Happy New Year to everyone! With this, my first update of the New Year, I thought it was important to address the topic of resolutions. I am all for taking the opportunity to look back at the past year and seeing how I can improve my habits and attitudes and be a better person in the year to come. But what I notice is that many people (myself included) are overly ambitious with their goals and then within a couple of weeks or a month, we start feeling overwhelmed and we give up on our efforts.

I started thinking about the way that pilots (or autopilots) navigate their airplanes to remote destinations. It is not a straight line from point A to point B. There are hundreds of little corrections along the way. The plane's navigation system determines the flight path and then constantly recalibrates the plane's controls based on the current location, altitude, etc. Autopilots also improve fuel efficiency and passenger comfort, since the adjustments made by an autopilot are more subtle and accurate than those made by hand. It's similar to what happens to your GPS route when you accidentally take a wrong turn. Rather than berating you (wrong turn, idiot!) it simply reevaluates the course based on your current location.

So, my suggestion is this: rather than taking on unrealistic resolutions and then beating up on ourselves when we cannot live up to them, what about making some smaller, more reachable goals along the way? Instead of "New Year's" resolutions, what about "New Month" resolutions? At the beginning of each month, we have the opportunity to check in with ourselves, take stock of our current locations, or progress, and then make the necessary adjustments... without all of the guilt and drama.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. If you have something to add to the discussion, I invite you to visit my blog page and let me know what you think.

I will be heading to the Boston area in a couple of weeks to do concerts and services in Newton and Needham. So, if you or anyone you know is back East, please come out and say hi. Check the performance schedule below for more details.

In song,