I had the pleasure of arranging and producing this song, “Make The World Better”, which was performed by some incredible kids who collaborated across the country on this project. The song was written by Charlotte Bowder, who you’ll see first, and the video was produced by the inimitable Rosa Gaia. Check it out, spread it around:
Today is the nicest day of the year, so far. It’s sunny, warm, Spring has sprung, all the good stuff. And yet I find myself grumpy. Not angry or mean to Callie, just a little sour. Could be because I woke up too early and my mind is greedy for sleep. But I’m an American, so naturally I look for external causes. Well, there’s a Pandemic on, could be that. Maybe what I need is the hustle and bustle, or to go to a party and make somebody laugh, or just see more faces on a regular basis, instead of the menacing image of surgical masks on every sidewalk. I’m in New York City – “The Epicenter”. Ask any New Yorker, and maybe any human, and they would’ve called NYC “The Epicenter” before CoVid-19. And rightfully so, this place is thrumming with life, with opportunities. Doors can open for us here that we couldn’t open ourselves. It’s a magnetic center, and by the nature of Gravity, the more magnetic it gets, the more magnetic it gets. Something is always happening. If you’ve ever visited, or if you live here, you know that feeling. That feeling that something better is always happening…over there. Someplace, the next neighborhood over, at that bar you didn’t enter, that party you weren’t invited to, that performance you never heard about – you’re missing it. You should go out, you should try harder, you should meet more people, the Right People, they can Open Doors. Then what? Then finally your life will be better. The Next Level. This city is thrumming with people striving for The Next Level. And I love that. That’s why I moved here, that’s why anyone moves here. But the price of admission to this Buffet of Opportunity is FOMO. It’s a cliché now, a meme, but like its sister acronym YOLO, it’s real and it’s wise. FOMO is a poison that all New Yorkers drink daily. But in reality, it’s all Americans. Fuck it, maybe it’s more efficient to just say All Capitalists. FOMO is what drives all of us Hungry Ghosts to eat and drink and buy endlessly, never feeling sated. I’m not saying this because I think it’s new, but it’s important to think about this right now because of when we are all living. We’re in The Great Pause. For the first time since the world has been a truly global society, life has come to a halt. And for many of us, we’ve been asked to do nothing. I know there are millions of exceptions to this, people are still working, the economy is still breathing, it’s just in a bit of a self-induced coma. But many of us are at home with nothing to do but what motivate ourselves to do. And in New York City, The Epicenter, for the first time in the history of this place you can rest calmly in the knowledge that there is absolutely nothing better to do. There is no party you’re missing. Out there in the great mystery of the city, there are no open doors awaiting you. And this is itself the greatest opportunity we could get. For once, maybe just this once, we can ask ourselves point blank: What do I actually want to do? Not for money, not for status, not out of habit. In the quiet of my own room, with my own thoughts, who do I want to be right now?
There are plenty of shitty answers waiting for you. You could be on Instagram a lot more. Why? So you can see other people also being bored? Maybe you want to grow your following more. Fine, but is that how you want to spend this opportunity? In college you were going to write a book. If you don’t write that book now, with absolutely nothing else being asked of you, you were never really going to write that book. And the Fatalist in me says, “Que sera sera, I wasn’t meant to.” But that voice is only one half of a dialogue that keeps my machine moving, and the other half says, “You have to move yourself to go anywhere, this Life doesn’t live itself.” So if I don’t even try to use the Opportunity to write that book, learn that language, clean that closet, I wake up grumpy on a sunny day. Missed opportunities become a residue of regret that we carry with us for the rest of our lives. You can see it on people. A lot of people say old people are grumpy because their bodies are breaking down and that’s a bummer (that really is a bummer btw, fuck aging), but I think the more difficult truth is that you get grumpy as you get old because Your Regrets start to outweigh Your Opportunities. You go from shining child, complete potential, to exhausted geezer, complete reality. And at the end, as you sink into the abyss, the depth of the sour regret or the sweet satisfaction will be determined by how you handled your opportunities.
This is not a prescription. I wouldn’t know what to suggest. Maybe you should do nothing. Maybe you’ve been incessantly doing for 40 years straight and haven’t stopped to think about Why and now here you are, forced to stand still. By all means, stop. Take a breath. Just make it count.
It’s still the nicest day of the year, and here I am at my laptop writing a screed that no one asked for. As maybe you’ve guessed, my motivation in writing this is that I felt that something was undone. I have stuff to do, it’s not that. But I think I felt like something needed to come out of me in a new way. I’m always making music, I sing every day and it enthralls me. And I can always go to music to channel the wordless energy and let it pass through me. Plus, it’s just so much fucking fun. But I suppose sometimes that’s not enough, and that I have more than needs to come out. I look at my Instagram and my Facebook and I see a person who does not look like me. So what? Most of the people who ever encounter me will encounter a Me, curated by Me, who doesn’t even look like the Real Me? Why would I let that continue? That doesn’t mean I’m going to taking more selfies. I think we all know by now that sharing selfies will not satisfy the desire to be Seen. I intend to write more of these, and I hope they’ll be meaningful to somebody out there. At the very least, I’ll let some energy out. This is how I’m going to use this Opportunity.
How about you?