Special People


I was at a gathering of my wife’s family about ten years ago when my son, Max, mentioned that I had started composing music. This was something I’d wanted to do all my life, had even begun dabbling in when I was in my early twenties. Unfortunately, the music I was hearing was beyond my rudimentary piano skills, and I soon became disappointed with my efforts. Plus, writing music had always seemed like a very special thing for very special people. Any monkey with a pencil could write a story, but a song was like a magic spell, and I was no magician.

Until one day in my forties when I realized my computer came with software that could play any note I told it to. Suddenly I had strings and pianos and horns and drums at my fingertips, and somehow this stable of obedient virtual musicians helped demystify composing. I knew the stuff I was writing at first wasn’t great, but I didn’t care because I was having so much fun doing it. And I did it lot. Just about every free moment, and the stuff got better, and before long I had dozens of songs on my laptop.

None of which I shared with anyone beyond my immediate family, though I did create a YouTube page where I posted them, fully expecting each song to languish in silent anonymity. So when Max announced that I was writing music, I found myself pulling out my phone and saying, “Yeah, listen to this.”

“That’s pretty good,” said my wife’s aunt.

“I know,” said Max. “My dad does a lot of cool stuff. He just doesn’t get paid for any of it.”

True, I thought. Maybe only special people get paid for the cool things they do. That’s when I noticed my wife’s cousin slumped gloomily on the couch.

“Man,” he said. “You’re so creative. I’m not creative at all.”

I told him this was nonsense, that everyone is creative, that I only wrote this stuff because it was fun and he should have heard the first pieces, but I knew he had thrown himself into a hole I couldn’t help him out of. I’d been down there plenty myself. I needed someplace to hide in my shame and pity. Plus, it sort of made me special, since I was the only one in my hole. Once you come out, you have to accept you’re like everyone else, magicians and monkeys alike.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual coaching and group workshops.