Last week I had a couple of great gigs in the North East. It was good to be back on the road again but the dates were almost marred by a conference I went to just before the first show.
It was a music industry event with the usual keynote speakers and I heard some helpful things. But rather than making things clearer I came away wondering what on earth I was doing.
On guy said of himself, “I’m 45 now. I can forget being at the top, so I’m looking at the youngsters.”
So is that it? 45 and he’s writing himself off? A few years ago I was at a concert at the Albert Hall. I sat next to someone who seemed to be in the know about the act that was on and the industry in general. He was interested in what I did until he found out I was 40. “Oh, well I’m afraid you’re past it” he said in all seriousness.
So here I am starting to think, maybe they’re right. Maybe I’m too old for this now. What do I think I’m doing scraping together gigs here and there. What am I really doing this for?
Then I was off to the first gig, trying to put the negativity aside, at least until I was back at my friends house in a safe pace to unpack my melancholy over a glass or two of cab-sav.
But the show built itself, the songs randomly selected telling a story and eventually concluding that the world is a mess but with God’s help we can be bigger than that mess and everything it carries with it. Both nights I ended with Streets of This Town and I realised what this is all about.
I finished the night in Alnwick and was loading up ready to head home when I heard about the latest terror attacks, this time in Paris. I drove home listening to the updates through the night, reminded of the hours after 9/11 where I tried to keep up with the news, hoping to hear something about my dad. I was thinking of the families waiting to hear if their loved ones were safe and wondered what the responses from those affected would be. I threw up some prayers, wept a little, thought of Syria, Beirut, the Russian plane crash, and I thought of dad and my own journey.
And then, a couple of days later I heard a tribute by Antoine Leiris to his wife Helene, who died in the Paris attacks. His simple words, “I will not give you the gift of hating you”, rang like a bell. He spoke for so many. Hope is bigger than hate, Love is bigger than fear. Someone said that darkness is merely the absence of light. If we can be light we can change the world.
‘I will not give you the gift of hating you’