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THE INCONVENIENCE OF GIVING IN TO YOUR CALLING

This post is originally from a LinkedIn article I published on August 19, 2016

August 19, 2016

If you take just a few moments to rummage through my profile you'll notice what a varied and crazy journey I've been on. Pretty much my entire life, I must say, and it's been way better than anything I could've designed. This past week has seen the result of several years pursuing my passion and soul's cry since I was eight years old and first took up the guitar: to create, record and release my music to the planet. Perhaps that's a bit overstated since there were fluctuations over the decades preceding recent events, but it's true, nonetheless.

And by recent events I mean that my first two pieces of music have just been released to the planet. To say it's been surreal would be an understatement. Seriously, Bruce...you took a gigantic risk with your balls in a wheelbarrow and actually put something out there for people to accept or fillet with the unsharpened scalpel that is social media? Or, perhaps even more frightening, through LinkedIn, which you openly acknowledge is a venue that hardly ever hits your radar screen and you barely access? Yes. Correct on all points.

There's a biblical quote, one of a few that have stuck with me all my life and I think is from the Apostle Paul, that mentions being "all things to all men." I've tried to live my life by that tenet and can't say whether I've succeeded or failed. Not to be morbid, but that determination will likely be decided at my memorial service and I won't be there to witness it. So, I have only my gut and spirit to go by. And I know that I can say I've tried, which means not everyone will have been served by my life's purpose and my response to it. And that's OK. It took me three years of therapy after my divorce to accept, but it's true: I cannot and will not be everything to all people. When I couple that premise with my inclination toward perfection, it's a quandary. How can I possibly live the most perfect life serving others, as I believe I've been called to do, in a manner that meets their needs? Not possible. And that's been the most liberating part of my recent journey.

Music is a universal language. With the first two pieces I've released this week and made available for purchase, there are no lyrics to encumber the listener. Each person is free to create and attach a story to the music. We all do that, even with lyrical compositions, and that's what makes a song so special and personal. When ten thousand screaming maniacs sing along to a Bon Jovi song, they're relating to it from their personal experience. It's not from the perspective of the songwriter, yet the lyrics can somehow become autobiographical and that's what creates the connection. This concept has revealed itself over and over in my life outside of music, mostly through my 18 years of leadership in nuclear power. Living an authentic life and executing from it allowed others to connect with me in ways I'll never be cerebral enough to design. It's beyond me and larger than me, and that's why I've learned to trust it.

And so I've come to grips with the purpose of a life that's led and has a calling. Not everyone is going to connect with your purpose, not should they. I could spend hours trying to summarize here what I've come to believe after nearly 56 years of living. Thankfully, I'm healthy enough at this stage of life to realize that it's not necessary for everyone to agree with me, to connect with me, to validate my intrinsic needs by "liking" all my Facebook posts and generally fucking up my beliefs about myself and the world in which I operate. Lifelong love may or may not happen. Cultural mandates through television and movies don't have to be lived out by you or me to achieve a happy life. Creation isn't perfect in some respects and is absolutely pristine in others. On this side of life, I see things far less black and white than I did as a younger man. My life and the sum culmination of my experience has created for me a beautiful tapestry of color that I'm so thankful to view through aging eyes. And I'm forever grateful that I'm not colorblind to my life.

To conclude, things have generally not gone the way I planned nor envisioned for my life. And the same can be said for my close inner circle of loving friends who've suffered heartbreak and loss, triumph and tragedy, and yet continue to make something wonderful with this one life they've been given. Those few are my inspiration and I'm truly blessed to know them. And so here's the true and not-so-clever hook, yet honest and transparent final statement behind this article: I was prompted to promote my recent accomplishments through my music here and decided against it. All in real time while I was writing this. Months ago, someone here messaged me and asked that I alert them when my first piece of music dropped. I was attempting to comply with that request when I logged in, but something within me felt disturbed. I'm not a robust promoter of myself or my music, and it didn't feel right to write my first article with the sole purpose of getting anyone who might read this to go purchase my two songs for 99 cents apiece. And you might think that I'm being disingenuous and leading you to the links for my music, but you'd be wrong.

The inconvenience for me, of giving in to my true calling, is to know when to promote and when to simply share from my heart. I operate within that space nearly every hour of my given days, so it's difficult to make a conscious decision to pull in the reigns and chose not to share when I know I have no agenda other than to deliver my gift to the world. It's a bitch, at times, to know the difference, especially when you truly care about others and don't seek to take advantage of an opportunity. And especially when most of the collective wisdom would present some finely crafted marketing plan, based on facts and figures and metrics to numb your skull, all suggesting that it's in your best interest to push your art and nudge your audience to a website or outlet to get your stuff. And that's just not me.

Lastly, in my second and final attempt to conclude, I encourage you to sift through your calling - the one you know in your heart - and spend some time sorting through how it aligns with your life. And please don't take my words as a template for how to successfully navigate through that. I've again done my best to share how it's still a mystery and struggle, at times, but at least or at best I can firmly say that I truly care and want to fulfill one of my life's purposes - to share from my experience and my heart what I know to be true - and persuade you to not close your ears nor turn completely down the volume to your calling. You're meant for something here on this planet with the one life you've been given. It may not appear perfect or ideal, but it's valid, nonetheless.

Oh, and despite the very nice request of my LinkedIn friend, I will honor myself and not post nor reveal the pathway to my music and where you might purchase it. I trust that anyone who wants it will find their way easily to me and I'll gladly provide it. And I'm not one to take names and make note of things, so it's of no consequence if you choose to not request that information. You're on your own path and I encourage you to trust it. There's plenty of music to go around and a little of something for everyone.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and be blessed...

Bruce

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ON LIFE AND LOVE AND ALL THAT JAZZ...

I was sitting in a public laundromat in downtown Hartsville, South Carolina, taking in the sights and sounds of my new temporary home and fidgeting with a new gadget I'd just purchased. My first iPad was both a mystery and adventure, taking a bit of time to adjust to any form of technology without a CD drive. Only days before I'd stepped off a plane with luggage in one hand and my guitar case in the other. I've often said I make my own luck and seek out the magical spaces that my music will eventually inhabit.

I was beginning my second contract as a consultant in nuclear power, having only a year prior left behind my permanent employee status at a plant I'd worked for over 25 years. I imagine I was reflective and grateful as I typed away in my Notes app what would eventually become the following blog post. I couldn't have known then that in less than three months I'd be shaken and rattled by a large farm truck that would barrel through a red light, t-bone the drivers side of my two-door Mercedes-Benz, and knock me across the intersection yet just this side of eternity. Thank heavens for German engineering, as the side airbags saved my life. That's a story for another time, and on May 20, 2011 I was still unbroken and contemplating all that I'd experienced thus far and the coming year in the Southland.

It's been close to five years since I penned this little retrospective and thought it appropriate for my first post here. I'm still delighted as I continue to grow and live such a beautiful life. Thank you for taking the time to scroll through my thoughts below and be blessed...

WHAT MY LIFE HAS TAUGHT ME ABOUT MYSELF...SO FAR

May 20, 2011 at 3:54pm

Being born has taught me that I am the product of an incredibly intelligent, creative and life-giving force that considered it important enough to breathe life into me for a specific purpose. I am one with all creation as evidenced by the meticulous and deliberate design in all things. And that despite periods in my life when I didn't want to live to see another sunset, this gift is not mine to take but rather to fully give.

Being a child taught me that I can always find the wonder and hope in all things if I retreat to that secret playground in my heart. I also learned that I'm pretty good at playing well with others, and I like that about me.

Being a father taught me that my children would likely form their idea of God by my relationship with them. And that while the enormity of that concept has paralyzed me at times, my humanity and imperfections have taken their proper place as the true Father has revealed and manifested Himself in their lives. And I have found tremendous comfort...and relief from the guilt of my faults...in that.

Being a husband taught me that I can devote myself to just one person. Even though that role had a shorter span than I imagined or intended, it's OK. And I continue to marvel and be inspired by those who keep their vows and hold hands through the years.

Completing the Ironman Triathlon taught me how f*#$ing tough I can be. I'll leave it at that.

Having children showed me how incredibly soft and tender-hearted I can be. And I really love that about me.

Romance has given me an intimate understanding of what people mean when they describe butterflies in their stomach and their breath being taken away. I've learned how candle light, music and food can create magic somewhere between the earth and heavens. And that like Willy Wonka once remarked, "The suspense is terrifying...I hope it'll last!"

Love has taught me what great potential has been gifted to each of us, and why we're really here.

My guitar taught me that a gift is serving its full purpose and is most satisfying when it's shared with others. I have also learned that it was given as a gift to me in the solitude of my teenage angst and struggles, and as a spiritual commune with God when I'm alone and pouring my heart out. The lesson is that my gift is a musical expression of emotive love that connects me to others and the Master Conductor. And that a properly made guitar will withstand a lifetime of salty tears and never complain as I hold it tightly in my sorrow. I also think it laughs when I still enjoy smelling the wood through the sound hole. It's just true.

My mental and emotional struggles have bound me tightly with others, and have taken me to places I couldn't have gotten to on my own. I also learned that Bon Jovi was correct through the lines, "It's OK to be a little broken...everybody's broken sometimes...it's just life." Its just true.

Growing old has given me first-hand insights into the circle of life. Time has made a way to accept my mortality, although I really believe I did at too young of an age. I've also learned that the line from the final Rocky Balboa movie is quite correct, that "You're going to prove that the last thing to age is a person's heart." I love that.

Movies have given me a place to find encouragement, hope, and a way to travel through time. They are the ultimate artistic fabric that joins and weaves us all together by engaging all the senses, but two. As you enjoy a bucket of buttered popcorn and the soft touch of his/her/your head on his/your/her shoulder, the experience is complete.

Actively pursuing and exorcising my prejudices, paradigms and faulty and downright unfair and unjust beliefs and values has given me a broader perspective and indescribable compassion for others. I've learned to confront and wrestle with my own personal values, and have found a way to keep my heart open to things I can't fully understand. I think I'm trying to evolve into a universal citizen who happens to reside across a number of time zones on planet earth. I think a lot about being all things to all people. The diversification of Bruce can be sampled through the last line of the previous musing. It includes love among all genders.

Lastly, I've learned that technology can both separate and unite us. It's up to us, and I choose to embrace all the wonders and potentiality of my social network, which has enabled me to share my thoughts, my heart and even whimsical missives with you all. Thank you for riding along and peering into my reflection along side me.

See you soon around the sun...

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