The Prince of Rye Brook

“We grow forward when the delights of growth and anxieties of safety are greater than the growth of anxiety and the delights of safety.”

Abraham Maslow

In my early years, I was taught how to pursue comfort, not courage. Success, I learned,  was “to enjoy life, retire and then do more enjoying!” In effect, I was raised to be a Prince, not a Warrior. My grandfather, Phillip Distillator, once told me and my brother, “There are three things that are important in life, boys: Champagne, Women and Money.” Oy.

Luckily for me, my life got hard around age 12 when my father left and my mom had to transition from housewife to sole-breadwinner and parent. As a part of the deal, I learned to shovel snow, cut the lawn, and cook. The jobs I had were hard and paid little, but I worked like a bull. Craig still remembers watching me and marveling at how I took to labor. I loved it then and I still do, today.

The Delights of Growth & the Anxiety of Safety

I have been the poster child for growth. Individual and Group Therapy, Life-Coaching, Men’s Work, Accountability Groups and 12-Step Work are just some of the ways I’ve pursued growth with a passion.
When I was 15, I had an entire wall of my room filled with clipboards, each of which contained a yellow legal pad with a goal and steps to achieve it. I still do that and will soon release a Teachable Course on the subject of goal-setting.
Preparing for Beth & Scott’s Adventure, then, fits perfectly with my Warrior-like approach to life. I form an idea, research it and then plow into it with all my might. This is very rewarding for me.
In those moments, I feel safe because I am moving forward. While others around me fret about this and that, I’m ready to leap and figure out the problems later. As you can imagine, that’s a bittersweet thing when you’re collaborating with others!

The Anxiety of Growth & the Delights of Safety

Grandpa Distillator was a hard worker, too, but he loved summers in Monte Carlo, dining out every night, and having a box at Yankee stadium. He was, in his time, a Warrior Prince who captained the Cornell tennis team and taught his daughter (my mom) how to pursue life’s riches. My mother, to his great chagrin, did not take to this lesson and married an unemployed actor, a great salesman who was more like Professor Harold Hill than Captain Phil Distillator.
My dad didn’t know how to teach me to be fully tough or fully smart. His early life was hard: fatherless at 3 and a student at an all-boys boarding school in Philadelphia. Though he was smart, I don’t think he learned how to enjoy hard work or how to keep money in his pocket. He could be a bull, like me, but as I look back at his life and his eventual departure from us, he became a victim to his own self-loathing and inability to “keep up with the Jones’.”
This stuff is on my mind, today, because I’m transitioning from the comfortable life I created as a suburban children’s musician to a nomadic songwriter and searcher. I’m stepping into my next battle with the fear that I/we may not have what it takes to succeed as success was defined for us. It feels very unsafe and, yet, I am doing it anyway.
My prayer, this morning, is this. Dear God, please provide me with the courage to step into the unknown. Help me to prepare and to dare, to smile and breathe when life gets challenging. Help me to seek out support from you and my brothers and sisters.
God, may I have the courage to redefine my role in this world as a musician, to not play it small or safe but to fully embrace the gifts you, my parents, and my teachers have given me. May I continue to learn how to love, grieve and empathize with the sufferings of others. May I know how to forgive and to accept forgiveness.
Amen.

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