Our friend, Tony, lives in a town not too far from Nashville. His place has lots of room for him, his music studio, and all of the comforts of a suburban home. It’s a peaceful place with warm, autumnal colors very similar to the palette that Beth and I used for our house in Yorktown.
Tony has always been a spiritual brother to me, a guy who is always reading philosophy or growth-oriented books to better himself. As a divorced man, living alone, he has carved out an existence that I would describe as aesthetic, one where he can sculpt himself like a luthier might do with a fine piece of wood. He is, in my opinion, his greatest creation.
Tony was always a pretty healthy guy, but in the ten years since I’ve seen him, Tony has become increasingly adept at taking care of himself with better nutrition and, I would judge, defined boundaries for who and what he lets into his orbit. I know some people who have a disease who have become very attentive to their diet because they have to. Tony does it because he wants to. His body is like a vessel for his finely-tuned philosophy.
If I sound overly admiring of Tony, it’s because I sense something in him that I see in myself and in many beings doing “the work.” Through the trials of his life- and there have been many – he has forged something beautiful, something I see as a part of the Adventure that I am on, too.
One of my questions for Tony was how he decides what to work on when he gets up in the morning. Like me, he doesn’t have a job that he reports to. We’re both in the gig economy. His answer was that he moves towards that which he loves. If he wants to learn about sound design, he’ll study it for four hours. If he’d rather learn to play the bass guitar, he’ll spend half of a day absorbed in that task. And if one of his friends is in town, like us, he’ll put aside everything because connecting with people is something he loves to do.
One of my other friends, Peter, said (and I’m paraphrasing), “When I meet people like Tony I immediately want to find something wrong with them. Then I realize, that this is me arguing with myself because I want to understand why I’m not being like Tony. It’s what I really want.”
I agree with Peter. It’s very natural for people (and crabs) to try and pull someone back down into the bucket when he is about to escape or reach a new level. Our first instincts and emotions might be cognitive dissonance, anger, and jealousy.
So, I tested Tony a bit. I tried to find the faults in the composition of his life even though every good part of me hummed along with the melody he was playing. I tried to see if his life had become a Nirvana.
Nope. Not at all. Tony still faced ups and downs like everyone else. I heard him say that the human being’s purpose on this earth, in part, is to go through hardship, to lose faith and to then fall to one’s knees in a plea for help only when all seems lost. That certainly lines up with my experience.
What was also aligned with my experience was Tony’s belief (he called it “a knowing”) that for a human to come fully into a place of love – for himself and for others – he has to move from a place of ego to a connection with the Divine in himself. Yup. We ain’t in charge. The wisest move is sometimes to not move.
Lastly, Tony is a non-dualist like I am. Both of us believe that we were born beautiful and that the goal of this life – or many lives, if necessary – is to get back to that purity. When we’re done with that on this earth, we transcend into Spirit. Agreed.
In the end, then, what Tony was offering me was a more fully-realized perception of myself (and everyone) than what I was currently holding. Lately, I’ve seen myself as 95% of the way to believing fully in myself. What Tony was offering was this – instead of vacillating on my innate goodness and trying to make myself worthy, know that who I am in this moment is all I need to be. Whoah.
“You already are a great songwriter, player, performer and leader in front of an audience. You have already put in your 10,000 hours and then some. It’s time to know it and then the Universe will give you what comes next.”
I was stunned. Not with disbelief, but with the utter realization that I’ve known this for 10 years. I just haven’t been willing to commit to it as truth worthy of my complete trust (also called “unquestioned faith”).
“I think you guys need to move to Nashville,” Tony said. “It’s a great place to live, there’s a lot of bang for your buck here and you’ve got really great friends in this town. There’s so much happening here. musically, and so many musicians for you to work with. I think it’s where you need to be.”
Beth and I have a lot to talk about and consider. We’re not done with our travels, but we do have some solid contenders for “what’s next” in our rearview mirror.