It’s been 546 days since I last posted a Grasshopperism and the first time I’ve posted one on Vocal. I stopped posting them because I felt it important to live what I was writing about. To not actually live what I believed seemed wrong, so I wanted to test my thoughts. When I began writing about The Fiddling Grasshopper, I very much felt as though I had recognized something in myself and in other people that was a very unique and wonderful state we could all be in. Each of the 21 Grasshopperisms I wrote and posted described what being a Fiddling Grasshopper meant and is. But I still had a lot of questions, and so I felt it very important to go out and live what I believed.
Now, 18 months later, I have lived a lot of life. All of us have. It’s impossible not to live a lot of life in just one day, so we have all done a grand amount of living in 546 days. I sit here in New Orleans, on a rainy afternoon, sweat gathering on my upper lip in the humidity and heat of the Deep South in late August, a few days after my 45th birthday, a little dog napping under my lawn chair that I’m sitting in as I wonder to myself: “Are you a Fiddling Grasshopper?”
It’s important to define what a Fiddling Grasshopper is so I can explain why I think I am one, and why I think it’s a cool way for us to live. But, first, I want to explain something I believe in strongly: if you dream something, you can make it happen. But to make it happen, you have to turn that dream into a vision, and develop as many sides and facets of it as you can, so that it comes to fruition in as many ways as you want. You will never receive all aspects of what you want because infinity is too large for you to be able to see each and every angle and possibility. But your dream is possible in every way because infinity itself exists. That means that all possibility exists. Anything.
My belief is that to make a dream into a tangible vision, you need to say it out loud somehow. That may be verbally, that may be by writing it down, or whatever form is easiest to make a vision something that can be seen or heard out in front of you. Words, spoken or written. A vision board. A project plan. Calendaring. Painting it. Sculpting it. For me and the way I work and think, I like to write it down. After you’ve “said it” in whatever form works best, you are in charge of following through. You have to make it happen. If you don’t, it was merely a passing thought that meant nothing. But if you hear your words, read them, feel the curve of your sculpted dream, you can now believe that it is possible. Because it is.
Believing in a dream allows you to understand why it’s important to you. You now have a reason, a purpose for what you want. Taking the step from believing in a dream-with-a-purpose toward making it happen is actually easier than you think. Because of the work you’ve done to create your belief, you can make it happen. You can be the dream. You can become your vision. You can live your purpose. I came up with the dream of helping others become Grasshoppers, and this written Grasshopperism you are reading is one of the ways I am making it happen. It has been a bizarre and fascinating road, sometimes difficult and other times easy.
Dream it. Say it. Believe it. Be it.
Okay. Here is where I pull back from using a slogan or meme that can be interpreted briefly and then thrown away. To me, the many memes and slogans in the world attached to posters, T-shirts, bumper stickers, posted on social media walls and in the links of streaming videos, can be easily read, lived for five minutes and then discarded. We are bombarded by them. I don’t want to do that. I’m using simple phrases and words that can be repeated like a self-mantra, but it is up to all of us to create our own mantras to live by. The many spiritual leaders, gurus, life coaches, motivational speakers, and personal transformation writers in the world expressing ways to live life well can’t all be right, can they? Or can they?
I want to return to the Fiddling Grasshopper. The Ant and The Grasshopper is an Aesop’s Fable. Aesop is believed to have been a Greek slave and storyteller, who lived 2,600 years ago, sometime around 600 BCE. He was an orator, and his stories were passed down verbally, but none of his actual writings exist. Like many famous ancient historical teachers and storytellers, his work was written down many years after he lived. His stories could have come from many people, being reinterpreted each time they were retold and each time they were written down, but the story is what matters the most now. Aesop’s name is associated with many tales familiar to billions of people over many millennia. Stories like The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg, The Town Mouse and The Country Mouse, and The Boy Who Cried Wolf are all famous Aesop’s Fables.
Why do I have a fascination with The Ant and The Grasshopper and why am I asking myself if I am a Fiddling Grasshopper? Why have I spent 18 months determining if the previous 21 Grasshopperisms I wrote and posted are valid based on a tale told 2,600 years ago by someone who may not have existed? Because I have a dream that we can all live like Grasshoppers. But, not the one that Aesop specifically talked about. This tale has been interpreted and reinterpreted hundreds, if not, thousands, of times. I’m not the first. But I believe that no innovation or artistic idea comes from nowhere. All possibility comes from the fact that if infinity exists, then everything exists, and we just need to ride the wave of what we have created to discover our next innovation or creative opportunity. The challenge is in making the dream into a reality. That is what Grasshoppers do.
The story of The Ant and The Grasshopper is simple like all Aesop’s Fables. In the original tale, The Ant toils all summer, while The Grasshopper plays the fiddle. The Ant works alongside all the other Ants building an ant hill while The Grasshopper plays music nearby. In the winter, The Ants have somewhere to go when the cold comes. Here is where some interpreters have used this story as a morality tale about hard work. If you don’t work hard building an ant hill all summer, you will have nothing to live in when winter comes and you can die. Some interpretations say that Ants only save themselves when winter comes, and they leave The Grasshopper outside in the cold to die. That doesn’t sound very moral.
So, I turned this tale on its head in many ways and asked a series of questions. What if there was no Grasshopper to play music in the summer? What do The Ants listen to while they work? Would the poor Ants laboriously carry heavy pieces of sand, rock, and dirt to build an ant hill with nothing to entertain them but the sounds of ant grunts and antennae buzzing? No, The Ants need The Grasshopper because The Grasshopper provides culture in the form of music. When the ant hill is finished, The Ants also need The Grasshopper to come inside the ant hill with them so they have music and culture in the winter. If The Ants are kind and compassionate, they wouldn’t let The Grasshopper die, someone who has given them a great gift all summer long, providing excellent fiddle music, while they stare at each other’s butts in long lines carrying ant hill parts.
What if The Ants are inspired by The Grasshopper’s way of living and playing? They are inspired by The Grasshopper’s love of creation, learning, playing, making harmony and melody, and they want to play their own fiddles. Maybe banjos or upright basses. Flutes or drums. Or they want to write or sculpt or paint or sing. Maybe The Grasshopper’s music and way of living is inspirational in even more and different ways, and Ants now want to innovate their way of building the ant hill, so they become inventors and no longer just workers working hard, but they are learning to work well, building better ant hills, with more joy and less time, giving all Ants more time to enjoy summer and discover what they love. Because some Ants hate building ant hills. And some Ants aren’t very good at building ant hills either. There are sometimes long lines of disgruntled, unhappy Ants doing things they dislike and not doing it very well. This means it takes longer, the quality of ant hill suffers and The Ants suffer from disliking the very work they do, making everything much less happy for everyone. Does this sound familiar?
There is a Western idea that hard work will get you somewhere. Where is that somewhere? Is hard work going to get you to that somewhere faster than someone else? Is hard work going to guarantee that where you’re going is happy? Where we are all going to, eventually, is to die. So, living right now with excitement, fun, passion, joy, and drive sounds a lot more enjoyable than just working hard. Like a hammer hitting a nail over and over and over. Wouldn’t it be nicer if we got to where we’re all going with ease, joy, and playfulness? And, even more importantly, by being valued for how good we are at the things we love to do? The Grasshopper represents artistry, innovation, risk taking, and loving life. The Grasshopper is not lazy; far from it. The Grasshopper has learned a skill, which is to play the fiddle and not many can do that. I believe that is extremely important for The Ants to value The Grasshopper by giving him food and letting him come inside the ant hill when winter comes because he has given them music and culture and a whole variety of other inspirations by living his life fully, happily and by taking risks. A risk like the possibility that The Ants won’t bring him in when winter comes!
Am I a Fiddling Grasshopper? Yes. I have been telling stories like Aesop since I was three years old. I have played piano since I was four years old. And I have been writing down stories and songs as soon as I could read and write, which was not long after I started orating, singing and playing. I haven’t spent much time building ant hills because I haven’t spent much time doing things I don’t like to do. That has not made winter easy sometimes. Instead, I chose to travel, make music, make art, write it down, record it, have adventures around the world, make friends with people from everywhere, make less money to have more time, surf waves, dive deep into the ocean, and see fascinating new places and cultures. One day, I asked myself if maybe I could teach others about this strange way of living that seemed different from so many others. I thought that sounds weird, cool, exciting and inspiring, but first, I needed to understand what it was. This idea of being a Fiddling Grasshopper. Of being Grasshopperistic. So, I posted 21 Grasshopperisms over the course of a year or more, and I wrote many more that no one has read as of yet because they remain private. Then, I decided to live them. To live what I believe in.
It seems to have worked out OK. Since my last Grasshopperistic posting, I have traveled and lived in the Mayan Riviera of Mexico, the Lake Wobegon area of Minnesota, gathered my few possessions and got rid of the rest in California and relocated to The Big Easy here in New Orleans, Louisiana by following the Mississippi River south in my 1999 Toyota Tacoma with over 252,000 miles. I did all this while working as a Media and Creative Consultant, working remotely with clients from around the world, using this Grasshopperistic philosophy to help my clients write books, start businesses, release records, develop innovations, make life changes, determine what they want in life, why they want it and how to make it a reality. It seems that in winter, The Ants have let me live in the ant hill they built because of what I gave them. They valued me. And some of these Ants discovered that they were Grasshoppers and began to change their lives and the lives around them.
We are all Grasshoppers if we want to be. Artists, writers, inventors, innovators, risk takers, leaders, creators, and teachers are all Fiddling Grasshoppers. The many spiritual leaders, gurus, life coaches, motivational speakers and personal transformation writers in the world are also Fiddling Grasshoppers. You have to pick and chose which ones work for you or you’ll need to pave your own way and be your own Fiddling Grasshopper. The key for me is that a Fiddling Grasshopper must have pure intentions to help and never to harm.
The Grasshopper is a metaphor for living what you believe in and doing it creatively, to help others, to inspire others, and to change the world for the better. The Ant is a metaphor for those who are unhappy and who are doing what they are told they should do, but they don’t believe in it and they don’t love it. There are many degrees on the spectrum of both The Grasshoppers and The Ants. Every Grasshopper is not always content and happy, and every Ant can learn to love what they do and be very happy.
My hope is that the world learns that everyone has a number of things that they are good at, which they also love. And if they are good at them and are passionate about what they do, that all people deserve to be valued for this work. They deserve to be valued with money, food, shelter, happiness, and the ability to live well. We all deserve this. If we are all mostly happy in what we do and we also good at it, imagine how much we could accomplish. Imagine how many less people would be hurt by unhappy people. Imagine how much less suffering there would be if people were valued for their skills and their love of what they do.
I am a Fiddling Grasshopper. Are you?
Learn more about me from my website www.gentrybronson.com. More writings are available.