Sunday, March 16, 2008

Find joy in life...

...even if others think you are crazy

During the last few years my family and friends might tell you that I have gone off the deep end. They would say that my newfound interest of a certain blue-eyed, blond-haired entertainer and his music has them baffled. I’m also quite sure that many of my friends would participate in an intervention of sorts if the topic were to arise. Recently one of them told me she was trying to understand why this is so important to me, and why it is taking up a large portion of my life.

Passing the half-century mark is at the very least daunting. Add to that the fact that you have survived breast cancer, buried both your parents after nursing them in their poor health, and cared for a great aunt with Alzheimer’s disease. Spend the greater portion of the last ten years making sure that both your children have college educations, one of them with a master’s degree, and as you look back, you have spent little or no time having fun.

My mother and father both learned the hard way that life is short and if you miss those moments you don’t get them back. After my father passed away, I needed some moments of shear joy. I needed to feel like life was more than struggling, scraping by, and waiting to die. I needed an escape, however brief it might be, to regroup and refresh myself. In short, I needed some joy in my life.

After so many years of sacrificing for others, giving myself to so many, and feeling just a little spent, I found a place that made me come alive again. For ninety minutes at a time, I forget about the drama in my life and experienced the joy of Music and Passion, compliments of Barry Manilow. And after the show, I spend time with some new friends that “get” me and where I am in my journey. They “get” me because they are there too, looking for that same joy.

He will be the first to tell you he doesn’t get why we keep coming back time after time to see him on stage. He doesn’t understand why his career has span 30 plus years and several decades. He admits he’s not the best singer and his songs are pop songs, chided by critics over the years as bubble gum melodies and smaltz. But during a recent video, he admitted he feels a bit like a preacher, leading a congregation to experience the joy in life. He recognized that his music makes people happy, and that they leave his concerts singing. And with those few statements, he has nailed why we keep coming back for more.

Every time I walk through those doors at the Hilton hotel in Las Vegas, it’s like I’m coming home. I can’t explain it, and neither can most of the other fans, but I feel safe there. I can relax and be myself. I can yell, and scream and have some fun. I can experience every emotion in those 90 minutes and cry if I want, shout for joy if I choose, and sing at the top of my lungs to “Can’t Smile Without You”. When he belts out “all the time I thought, there’s only me” I relate to that. When he sings “it’s a miracle”, I’ve experienced those. When he sits at that piano and sings “we dreamers have our ways” it makes me dream all over again.

At the end of the night, I walk out of that theatre with a smile on my face and a bounce to my step. The friends that I have made remind me that life is for living. We laugh and sing and even dance together while forging bonds that were never there until we met because of this man. His music carries us home and helps all of us survive troubled marriages, difficult children, aging parents, job insecurity, terminal illness and the day to day drama that we all experience.

Everyone has to find their own joy in life. But my advice is not to wait until you are 50 to find it. Sprinkle those moments, those mini-vacations or even those occasional concert experiences liberally throughout your life. Find something that you are passionate about and pour your whole being into it. If you do this on a regular basis, perhaps your family and friends won’t want to schedule an intervention for what they consider to be "different". Find that joy even if everyone around you thinks you are crazy. Those moments of joy will give you hope and help you “make it through the rain”.

Thanks Barry for the music and the joy it brings to my life,
Texas Fan


sharabang06 said...

That is a beautiful blog subject and extremely thought provoking. As I read each paragraph in my head I was saying 'that's right','I know' and simply 'yes'.

Twenty-eight years ago at the age of eleven I stumbled upon the album Manilow Magic left at my home and after looking at the album cover and wondering who this lovely looking man was I took the album to my record player and began to play it.

From the very first song I became engrossed in voice and melodies. Then came the point where Weekend In New England began to play. I heard this sound I could only describe as beautiful. I heard a piano.

I playing that song over and over and I fell in love with a voice,a man I didn't know and the sound of a piano. I told myself then I want to learn how to do that,how to produce that sound for myself.

The years passed and throughout that time I would find myself saying again 'I want to learn to play a piano'. Well these twenty-eight years on I finally got round to buying a piano and have booked my first piano lesson!

I agree we should do as many of those things in life that we wanted to do,have the fun where possible and take the chances before it's all too late. I've heard it said "it's never too late",and before now they were just words,but when it's put into practise it's a wonderful feeling.

I would like to thank Barry for the inspiration,I promise I will remain determined,won't let you down and most importantly I won't let myself down!

Anonymous said...

You have such beautiful insights about things in life. Keep em coming!


Anonymous said...

Beautifully said!! Just perfect!

Anonymous said...

I don't mind saying that Barry is my happiness. If anyone has a problem with that. Tough. It's my life and he brings me joy! Thanks, B!

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