Desiderata

This week has been mostly taken up with activates of a musical nature at SXSW. It’s the first SX I’ve been part of in 2 years. It was a little weird, but it felt really good to be playing shows again and seeing musician friends I haven’t been around in for-eva.

Austin peeps will know how crazy the shire gets during SX. Musical people play an insane number of showcases, hopping from venue to venue with barely enough time to get from one stage to the other. It’s nuts, but a lot of fun.

As mentioned in previous posts, the pandemic has taught me that less is most definitely more, so the fact that I was only playing a mere 4 shows this week was A-ok with me. For context, in 2019 I played 19 showcases with multiple artists. 2020 I had 14 lined up, but Covid made sure none of those took place (which, as it turned out, was a good thing for me, as 6 weeks prior to that I had a hysterectomy and *should* have been resting).

Speaking of going placidly amid the noise and haste; this week I wanted to share a very special poem with you. Desiderata by Max Ehrmann. This poem is important to me because a copy of it has hung in every house my parents have ever lived in. I know many of the lines off by heart and growing up, both my Mum and Dad would quote passages from it often.

Enjoy ❤ ❤ ❤

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

 

But what’s the answer?

For the past 3 years I have been friends with a homeless lady who lives not far from us. She’s softly spoken, kind and unassuming. She has 2 dogs who are always happy as can be and far from skinny.

We periodically meet up and I take supplies of food, propane and anything else she might need. If it’s chilly outside I let her sit in my car with the seat warmers on, and for typical Texas-level heat I’ll get the air-conditioning on the go. It’s hard for her to trust people and even harder for her to accept help, so it means the world to me that she feels safe in my presence and allows me to do what I can.

She is part of a small group of homeless people who have found a spot tucked away out of sight from the rest of the world. They don’t steal from nearby shops, nor do they bother passersby. They are all outcasts for one reason or another and the only thing they are trying to do is survive. This year I have been able to meet a few of the other people in her community and they are all absolutely lovely. On the outside many of them look like they could cut a bitch. But if you can look past that and engage in conversation, you will find them to be intelligent, articulate and extremely thoughtful.

When I arrived in the US 8 years ago, I literally didn’t have a pot to piss in. The help I received from my community was unreal. People I didn’t even know offering me clothes, food, help with finding gigs, loaning me gear to play shows and even offering to me a ride places.

I wouldn’t be where I am today without the love and support of those kind souls. It’s something I will never forget, and even though some people might say my pissing pot still isn’t enormous, at least I have one 😉

I know you’re probably reading this thinking what the bloody hell does this have to do with the crisis in Ukraine? Isn’t that what this blog post is supposed to be about KM? 

It is. Stay with me.

A few years back, Laran and I were renting a room from a guy’s house. He and I would periodically chat about stuff and things (well, when I say chat, it was more like walking down a one-way street). He leans fairly hard to the right. As you’ve probably guessed, I’m more of a left leaning sort. The fact that we lean different ways doesn’t bother me and certainly doesn’t mean I no longer wish to engage in conversation. Quite the opposite, I want to hear everyone’s point of view.

We got onto the subject of other countries and their issues, when he said:

Back in the day the media didn’t cover news stories from all over the world. I believe we should only be concerned with our own and shouldn’t get involved in anything outside of the US.

I was somewhat perplexed by this statement and asked him to clarify.

To paraphrase, he believed that the American government should exclusively look after the American people, the US States should only deal with their own issues, and that each individual person should only concern themselves with their own family, and no one else.

Over the past few days, I have spoken to a couple of friends here in the US and asked them for their thoughts on the current situation involving Russia and Ukraine.

Their response was somewhat, surprising.

They seemed to very much align with my former roommate. We shouldn’t get involved. It’s not our problem. These aren’t our people.

I’ve thought about this a lot (I am a Libra don’t forget, it’s what we do).

At what point does it become our problem? When it’s on our doorstep? When it’s someone from our own country? Or family? Or a friend? At what point does human life become important to us? When you see it with your own eyes and not on a device that you can switch on and off whenever you want to? Or does it only become important when it directly impacts you?

There have been so many times when I have been around my homeless friend and thought there but for the grace of God go I. I was born in the UK, into a household filled with love and acceptance. I was told by the people closest to me, that I was loved and appreciated, even when I was being a complete arsehole. I was encouraged to follow my dreams. I always felt safe, and I had two strong role models in my life who taught me the value of both hard work and kindness.

Life is hard, and we’re all trying to figure our shit out on a daily basis, but some people have to endure unimaginable hardship that is totally and utterly not their fault. They just happened to be born in a certain place and time.

An analogy I often use is thinking of life as a dense forest with low visibility and each of us going on our own journeys, figuring out how to get to the other side.

Some people may have the appropriate clothes and shoes. Some may even have a flashlight and a GPS to show them the way. Others may have all the above along with a vehicle to drive them through the forest, so they don’t even have to walk.

Now imagine someone with no clothes, no shoes, no map or help of any kind, stumbling through the forest, lost and alone, trying to figure out how to get through to the other side, and when they ask for help no one answers.

We are all connected. Yes, we have our tribes which are divided into different countries with varying rules and ideals. But we all inhabit the same planet. I don’t see a them, way over there in the distance, in a country I know nothing about. I only see us. Humanity. The human race. If you’re hurting, so am I.

I was having a conversation with my Mum a while ago about helping others. I told her that I wish I could do so much more, and at times it feels as though I’m picking up a grain of sand and throwing it into the ocean.

In her usual Zen-like way, she replied with:

But imagine if everyone, everywhere picked up a grain of sand and threw it into the ocean. That really would make a big difference, and all you can do is hopefully inspire others to want to pick up a grain of sand in the first place.

I know, she’s a keeper.

I’m far from a perfect person and don’t profess to have all the answers. Often I feel lost and conflicted. But what I do know is that instinctually I want to help others wherever possible. The situation in Ukraine is heartbreaking and leaves me feeling so helpless. I desperately want to do something and it’s incredibly difficult to process, but I would far rather sit with an uncomfortable, helpless feeling, than be the polar opposite, and simply say ‘it’s not my problem’.

Sending so much love to the people of Ukraine.

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤