Last Monday, on All Souls Day, I was thinking about my grandpa (“Moose” we called him) and how he always wanted to write songs. He had no extensive musical training though he loved a great melody and played a decent clarinet in the Army during WWII.
He once told me that he went to New York City to meet with a producer and show him “his songs.” I don’t think that meeting went well. It may have been a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” type of experience. He may have even felt embarrassed.
As I reflected on this, it brought a familiar ache to my chest.
I experienced a similar pain years earlier when I visited the New York Times building to do an interview to feature my newest album. I was excited, but at the same time, I thought: “Who am I to get to do this?” “Why should I get to?”
Could my grandfather have written great songs? I have no doubt.
Did he have any guidance or training? No.
Did this stop him from trying? No.
Did it lead to disappointment because had the desire and capability but lacked the know-how to make his dream come true? Probably.
Did he undoubtedly have a lot to share due to his rich life experience? I’m sure.
Do I wish the songs he could’ve written (if he’d had the support) existed today? You bet I do!
In light of my recent work helping soul-inspired songwriters bring their best and most magical work into being, I often feel elated but, at other times, I feel sadness for those who didn’t get the opportunity.
On some level, I want to honor the lives of my ancestors by struggling with them in solidarity, but the truth is I can’t go back in time and help my grandpa write his songs. However, I can work with songwriters who are alive today.
I can honor my ancestors by creating and doing now what their circumstances didn’t allow for.
I know my grandfather wouldn’t want me to be imprisoned by the “Who Do I Think I Am?” way of thinking! He would be happy that he’d passed along his love for a beautiful, timeless melody.
What about you? Do you experience the “Who Do You Think You Are?” mindset in any part of your life?
Ancestors aside, I have to say that as a people-pleaser, it pops up a lot for me.
I’m a grown woman, yet I crumble when faced with it. I sort of contort my body so I’m shorter. I drop my head and I often stumble over my words.
Like when I hear the age-old joke about being an alum of the University of Notre Dame (over and over): “How can you tell if someone went to Notre Dame?” Punchline: “They’ll tell you.”
Yep, that built-in Someone Is Annoyed At You Because You (in this case I), Must Think You’re Better Than Everyone Else.
Silly, F-in, Bullshit.
Or, a recent person’s comment after one of my performances: “How’s it feel now that you’re not so important up on that stage?”
Or, my dear father, a very kind man, who, years ago, innocently enough, when I was in high school (and wanting to feel self-sufficient) tried to sell my old text books so I could buy some new clothes, said: “We don’t sell our books in this family, we give them away! Who do you think you are?” (a fledgling entrepreneur who will go into hibernation for a while now? )
So…who do I think I am?
Well I’m a woman, I’m a human, I’m a soul, I’m a space from which many things arise (like talking, walking, singing, laughing, creating, hunger )
How about you? Who do you think you are? Or a better question might be: Who are you when you’re free of this question(?) which really isn’t a question but rather an implication: Don’t you dare be who you are.
The next time you feel the “Who Do You Think You Are?” mindset coming from either inside of you or outside of you, go ahead and ask yourself who you are and then ask yourself who you’d be if this way of thinking had no affect on you.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
If you’re willing, please leave a comment below.