Meeting Bob Dylan
We all learn lessons from time to time. Sometimes those lessons are taught in every day moments and sometimes we learn from great teachers. We have a tendency to value the lessons we learn from great teachers more than those learned from every day moments. This is understandable. If we hear, “the masters say”, rather than, “I was thinking about this just after I pulled up to the drive-thru window the other day”, we give more attention to what follows, regardless of the wisdom shared. Somehow we think only the ideas of “the masters” are worth considering.
Maybe it is celebrity. Maybe it is our need to have thoughts given rather than created. Perhaps we are uncomfortable believing that the same thing that makes the Dalai Lama worth hearing, is also what makes the homeless woman who is mumbling to herself, as you walk by, worth consideration. Maybe we value the experience of another. Maybe we feel like “masters” are more connected in some way to that which we seek to experience. We feel more compelled to take the advice of Ellen Degeneres when she says, “Be kind”, than when a person desperately needing kindness is right in front of us asking for help or piece of bread. It is why Jane Seymour is filmed asking you to help starving children rather than “Joe from just down the street”.
Nonetheless, this is a story of how I (almost) met Bob Dylan and how it changed my life. Anyone that has known me, understands my appreciation for his music. My admiration of what appears in earlier interviews to be a smart ass kid with the world at his door. For whatever reason, I have given the thoughts of Bob Dylan some of my own thought. I have admired, from a distance, the life he has lived. There was a time, in the late nineties, when it was my goal to meet him. God only knows why.
He had come to town to perform a concert. I found out what hotel he was staying in. I drew a picture I thought he might enjoy and I placed it on the step of the bus that brought him to my city. I heard there were friends of friends that knew people in his entourage and they assured me they could get him a cassette of my demo album (yes… I had a demo album). Everyone in the bar where I played foosball and hung out knew it was my intention, ambition, and goal, to meet Bob Dylan. They were not cheering me on, but they did, at least, understand my desire.
Everyone met at the downtown bar on the night of his performance to have a few drinks, listen to some music, and then head over to the convention center. My guess is that it was just one more gig for Bob Dylan, and really, it was just one more time I was going to get to hear him live. After all of my preparation, and after all of my planning, it was on this night that I had the most desire, and the most chance, of meeting who, at the time, I considered to be a hero. I was not the only one at the bar who wanted to meet Bob. Everyone I knew at the time thought it was a worthy undertaking.
Then it happened. After the concert, we all met back at the bar to hang out and talk about what a great experience it had been. I might have been playing darts, I might have been sipping on some drink. I had turned my back to the door and was paying little attention to what was happening behind me. My life changed after what followed. There was someone tapping my shoulder. As I turned around, I saw Jonathan, a long haired, scruffy faced university student, who was beaming. He stared at me with an astonished look to his face and after a long inhaled breath, said, “I met him”.
Jonathan was excited. Jonathan had experienced what I had planned for the week prior. He described a brief encounter and what words were exchanged. Then he said, “I’m sorry“.
What followed changed my life for the better. The decision I made in that moment made me who I am today. Rather than saying, “You suck”, I responded, after a moment, with, “That’s great”. Instead of being angry that it was Jonathan and not me, I was genuinely happy he had the experience. I listened as he told what led up to his meeting his hero, how it made him feel, and what it meant to him. My guess is, that somehow, it affected his life in a positive way, and for that I was grateful with him.
I have since given up the desire to meet Bob Dylan. I have since given up on the notion that anyone is worth meeting because of what I know of them based on a press release, or a projected image on a screen, or a recorded voice or word on some device. The truth is, I have met everyone I would like to meet in my dreams. The truth is, there are people as wise, kind, and interesting in my every day life, as there are in the world of celebrities. My desire to meet someone based solely on their fame or work is waning.
Sometimes, how we feel about a celebrity or an author, a leader or a teacher, or even a belief system or religion, is a way we identify with groups of people and a way to convey, in some shorter method, how we want to be perceived. Lately, I have been more concerned about truth. Whether it is found in casual conversation, on the television, or in a book, universal truth is the only thing that is both universal, and true. With that said, I do not consider many things to be universally true. I also think the notion of “living your truth” is over rated as well. If after my short years on this earth I might be allowed to make only two suggestions, they would be these.
Be happy for others. If someone has what you desire, but do not have, be happy for them. If you are asking the Divine to grace you with a thing, and then you are anything but happy for someone that has already been graced with that same thing, how compelled is the Divine going to be to give you what you long for? Celebrate a win for another, even if you were who was defeated. Share the joy of anyone receiving what you hope to receive. In this way, your happiness can already become a reality, because if a person did not have a version of the thing you desire, you would not know to want it in the first place. Practice the joy you will feel after an accomplishment, by sharing the joy of the accomplishments of others.
Be Bob Dylan. Be Ellen Degeneres. Be the Dalai Lama. This may seem like three suggestions, but is not. When you look at a television and are amazed. When you are tempted to wonder how these people got so cool. When you read or hear words from a celebrity and are compelled to think about things in a different way because it was a celebrity who had a thought or an idea, go to a mirror, or even better, shut your eyes, and know that the person you find is as of much worth as the ones you admire. Know that any teacher you learn from comes from the same source that you come from. We are all partners in the effort to share love. Be happy they have their station in life and be content with your station in life. And make use of what you have, to share and show love and kindness to others.
In doing these two things, you will help others see their worth. You will come to understand your worth. There is a satisfaction that comes when you realize you have teammates in the world. There is a hope that comes when you understand you can transform the world. We are not to cast judgement and repair what we believe to be injustice, but we are to create flames of joy from the dying embers of hope found in those around us. Make money. Be “successful”. Work hard. But at the end of the day, be able to close your eyes thinking of at least one person you saw that day, that either by action or intention, you were able to help know that this life is not about what they think they are, but that it is about what the Divine thinks they are.
And what, the question becomes, does the Divine think you are? You are worth the effort. You are not perfect nor are you meant to be perfect. You are not God, but you are in God and God is in you. You are both creation and creator at once. You may not believe this yet, but you are a joy for others. You may not be content, but you are where you are for a reason. And though you may consider your contribution to be only a small part, you are absolutely necessary for the redemption of the world. We, humanity, God, or whoever the “we” may be, cannot do it without you. You. Yes, you, are the very reason the Creator is happy with the creation. You do not have to convince yourself by repeating it, but it will help to “feel” it. Even if you never meet Bob Dylan.