Just recently I was privileged enough to work for the Aspen Skiing Company up in Snow-mass, and one of my coworkers would constantly reply "You live your dreams" to customers that would ask if they could ski a certain way or be a certain way. It was extremely catchy, and I came away wanting to use the phrase myself, and now I'm using it quite frequently with this kids camp that I'm working at over the summer. Yet, I feel there's a deeper lesson here—and one for adults. So often we're looking for our path, and our purpose, and what we're supposed to do in this life. What is the best way that we can help the world, and thus feel the most fulfilled. My good friend and mentor Cynthia Clark recently interviewed life coach Caryn McCurry in her podcast Life Is In Your Hands. In the episode Caryn goes on to explain that one of the main ways to discover your life's purpose and thus ease with success is to dig deep into what brought joy into your life as a child. I encourage everyone to follow this podcast as there is a lot of helpful tidbits, but this one point made a lot of sense to me. It tells us to dig in, and live our wild dreams.
There is the phrase that explains that failure is only good if you learn from your mistakes. To this I must disagree. Failure is good if you get up again. There is no way to not learn something from failure. We have this false illusion that we are in control. Therefore it can actually put you into a worse state if you follow the first way of looking at failure. I can see you sitting there pondering whether... "Did I learn from my mistake this time"? There then comes the battle with your ego and you regret that you did or didn't do something. I know what this is like as I've been there. Thankfully, there is no way not to learn something from failure. My good friend Paul recently opened my eyes to this even more. He has recently thrown in the towel on his business. Over the past few years he started his own company making creative marshmallows and crafting them after the wonderful experience of having S'mores when camping. His company was called Stuff'n Mallows. He told me that when he was interviewed by large companies, the first thing they wanted to know was how many times the entrepreneur had failed. This life is a process of getting up and climbing another mountain. I really go back to the bubble analogy. When I was a child I would sit there and examine bubbles. I would look at them and try to determine when they would pop. I would look into their creamy outline and see the colors swish around. What I noticed was that when the surface became perfectly clear that was the moment in which they popped. Only when they were void of color did this happen. I think in many ways this is a metaphor for life. We're always climbing another mountain in the motivation and delight of becoming a little more pure. Awakening happens when our bubble pops. Struggles will still occur, mountains will still have to be climbed, but our perspective on how we view the next path will not be centered around effort. In this form, the life process becomes effortless. Perhaps we're all bubbles. You could say that we're "slow dancing in a burning room" as John Mayer has told us. It puts a romantic edge to the process of life, but I'm going with bubbles today. So go examine a bubble for yourself. Let me know what you think. Color is the spice of life itself. It can tell so much about us. Sound is color, I feel. It's that realization that the presence of those difficulties and hoops and swings is what makes the juice worth the squeeze. I'm imagining watermelon juice, but you can choose lemon or orange if you so desire. The world is your oyster.
When I arrived in Japan the summer was turning late again. My Daihatsu Move was still waiting in a parking lot with its bright white finish as though I had never left. The ride from Osaka Airport was smooth. It occurred to me that the last time I had flown into Osaka Airport I had been in middle school and it had been the start of my first glimpse into Japan. I had become aware at that moment in 2011 that some giant wheel in a far off room had clicked left one notch to signal a new beginning when I again found myself landing in the peculiar yet familiar Osaka Airport. For anyone who has never flown into this airport before it is sure to be a surprise as the airport is completely surrounded by the sea. As the plane approaches one may have the exhilarating and perhaps uneasy sensation that the plane will be landing on water as at the last minute a small landing strip appears out of nowhere and in an instant the plane touches down on a solid tarmac. I was able to take a train to the residence where my car had been parked. It was sitting in the same place where I had left it as though it had known that I was coming back. I started up the engine and headed north. I don't think Daniel was in the area. He was the teacher that had opened his residence to me and many other teachers months before. I wanted to thank him and express my gratefulness for his hospitality. Sometimes moments cannot be fulfilled all at one time. With this thought and wonderment I pulled out of the parking lot and prepared for the next leap.
What I remember about Yamagata Prefecture the first time I drove into it was its striking resemblance to the appearance of its sister city of Boulder, Colorado in the USA. I knew Boulder well as it was where I went to college. It was while visiting Boulder three months previous to when I first peered into the valley of Yamagata that I first learned about Yamagata's relationship with Boulder. It was the late summer of 2011 when I drove my Daihatsu Move into the valley of Yamagata City. It had been a whirlwind of a summer. Just five months previous to that moment I had realized that my teaching time in Fukushima Prefecture was over. A nearby melted nuclear plant had sealed that fate. It had been triggered by a wave. It was a wave that took out one-third of the town where I had been teaching in the small coastal, countryside town of Naraha. Luckily, Naraha was a small little town and the third of the town that was removed that day was mostly farming fields. Some houses were lost and some lives were lost, but they were small in comparison to further north. I already wrote about this day. It's in one of those previous writings. So you can find it there. Life is so short and fragile, I learned that day.
It's approximately just after 4 PM when I roll up to the venue. It's August 12th and a late afternoon is settling into an early evening nicely. Jim and Sharill, the main owners of 4 Mile B&B, greet us with warm smiles. The day has finally come where I get to meet my friend's Pearl And Wood. They're taking the stage that evening and I can't wait. We have been given the honor to open for them as well, which is a glimmering treat! I've known Ellie and Natalie for a while now. Ellie came in right after I came in from some Japan travels and Natalie is a family friend of another fantastic friend of mine that I've had since childhood. Naturally, the streams met for a while and those streams became rivers as it is the way that water works.
I will admit that I have had my share of gigs in which I think I wasn't prepared enough. I think many are in that same boat. Music gigs are interesting because they generally are quite different than a 9-to-5 in my experience anyway. Sometimes you're called the week of the gig and sometimes it gets booked a year in advance. That being said there is no substitute for being properly prepared.