I rocked at the Chesterfield Day School Dining Etiquette classes on Friday. The 4th through 6th graders were absolutely riveted with my presentation. Well, maybe not riveted, but they didn't throw anything at me. And it was truly and honor to speak to these wonderful kids. I was so inspired by their ability to grasp on to the concepts.
I find teaching to be a very inspiring--speaking, giving seminars, lecturing. I have done this for a while, put myself out there, speaking to all sorts of groups as long as I can remember. One time when I was young my father couldn't address a group of chamber people on the opening of one of his restaurants, and I said I would do it. I remember going about it the old fashioned way, writing notes out on 3x5 cards. I was like a robot standing up there in a suit, nervous and jittery. I pretty much butchered that gig, but it was another notch in the buckle for a lifelong comfort level of public speaking. I still enjoy the challenge.
And as far as I am concerned, I am still not all that good at it, not completely comfortable with what the end will produce. Because that is what you want--to bring it all together in to something that makes sense, sending a message, inspiring change or introducing a new thought process. I think I suffer a bit from what I call, the over forced thought process, maybe it is ADD. It's kind of like a virtual meat grinder, I know all of the thoughts, have them hovering over the force tube, once I start talking and plucking certain messages from the top, the pressure builds and the examples flow inward to the grinder to be forced out below. Out comes the tightly compacted sausage of knowledge, bundled, condensed and packed with influence to be considered...Um, whatever.
I don't every really know how the sausage will turn out, I have to start all over at times, sometimes not. Either way, I eventually get the point across and this has come from throwing myself out there. It is like a journey each time I do this. Always a little bit different. I suppose I have a common theme in all of my ramblings, that being authentic is what stands out the most-that applying knowledge to action is rewarding, that can't means won't, that trying means building momentum, stuff like that. That is what the sausage is supposed to be packed full of.
Lately I have taken up music, another free flow of expression. Sausage plays a role here too. I have dabbled in it for many years, but the last few have been a little more weighted on achieving at a higher level. I like to sing when I play and can get through a song or two, or three. I was playing with blues man Jim Sullivan at Lone Wolf the other night and realized that I was not at all that nervous, playing in front of whomever was watching--I wasn't at all concerned with how I looked or what I might have flawed. And I flawed a riff or two.
It occurred to me that my age has something to do with it. At 47, who really cares? It ain't like high school when a clique of friends start an unsavory campaign against you if you do something stupid or better said, unique. Things seem to bounce off pretty well at my age. It is more like, "yeah, that idiot really knows how to have fun, I wish I had the guts to do that, learn that, be that, express that". It is either that or they are thinking that their kid will never get within a rocks throw of my influence, which is fine too. It is simply about letting go and being who you are.
I was talking to Greenberg the other day. He has his ups and downs you know. I can relate, we all can relate some form of good day and bad day thing. I like to help keep his spirit high, because he is one of the most expressive heroes whom I've ever met. He brought me in a couple pictures of him from the senior Olympics, and a few pictures of his yard, that which has a theme--a tribute to the Holocaust. In case you didn't know, he is the artist who has been pissing off his neighbors for quite a while, in Ballwin, by decorating his yard with his art. Now, as much as I try to find fault in his efforts (I would have a tough time as a neighbor), the one clear thing that stands out about him is his uncompromising ability to authenticate his mission and/or purpose. He actually knows his purpose and it is his canvass to present it to us.
But Lewis told me that I didn't have to put the pictures up on the wall of his home depicting the ar--the ones with the Yiddish and Hebrew sayings written on the frames. It occurred to me that if Lewis went to the trouble to give me the photo's of himself, his art certainly needs to go next to him, just like everyone else. Lewis is his art. We all are an expression. That is what the Lone Wolf is about.
My daughter told me I was acting like an idiot while watching a couple of her friends play some music at The Wolf last Friday. I was getting in to it, tapping my foot, grooving a bit here and there. She was giving me dirty looks and making snide remarks--My guess is that a reserved "coolness" is what is "cool" with the kids while watching/listening to music. She would not have liked to see me at the AC/DC concert a few months ago.
So I grabbed a guitar and spewed out some Albert King with Elliot, another kid prodigy hanging out with the Raskas clan. I did this just to piss her off but I could see that she was groovin in her own way, somewhat proud of my ability to embrace the unconventional father figure. Let me tell you something kids, most adults have some Beatle Bob in them. In fact, I need to put Beatle Bob on the wall. Near Baton Bob and Biker Fox. If you don't know who Beatle Bob is then you don't qualify for the coolness that can only be understood by adults.
So the lesson here is expression. It is good for the soul. It keeps things real, there is a responsibility to taking the stage, making a speech, standing up and telling it like it is, expressing yourself. You have to believe in stuff, you have to understand that there can be fallout, disagreement, criticisms. There are times when it is most uncomfortable, challenging, argumentative. There is a reward.
But isn't that the way it is in everything. Just getting up and doing your thing each day can subject you to the fallout. I say meet it head on, get up and shout, sing, orate. Sharpen your pencil of expression daily, and build your spirit--that which will be around long after your gone. Word.