Indigo Girls & Dreams

Anyone who knows me, knows I love music. I play a lot of instruments with varying degrees of expertise. Guitar, banjo, mandolin, harp, dobro, fiddle/violin, harmonica, bass, drums, bells, flute, piccolo, piano and organ (really hard and not very well since my right hand is partially paralyzed), french horn, sax and coronet. I still play the flute almost every day and I pick up the guitar every now and again too, and I will bang on my son’s drums when they’re at school and I’m stuck on a book. Every night of my early years, my father would sit and play the guitar or banjo and sing country and bluegrass. My older brother played guitar and harmonica like a dream. And all of you know my little brother, Warchild, is quite a musician himself.

My love of music had me in band by fifth grade and I worked the sound board for the Jazz Ensemble in junior high and college. I was even in a few punk bands for awhile. I worked as a music director for three different radio stations and as a DJ for years. I was also a music/band reviewer for about 12 years. For a time, I wrote, directed and filmed videos for local bands in Atlanta and Athens. Because of that, I was very active in the alternative scene around Athens and Atlanta in the 1980’s when such groups as REM, B-52’s, Indigo Girls, etc were making themselves known. I have the most distinguished honor of having been dubbed the Indigo Girls’ first official fan by Amy herself :) because I was always at 688 and Little Five Points Pub listening to them play and I still have the first album they produced themselves that’s autographed by both Amy and Emily.

I listen to some of everything and it’s not unusual to hear Bach followed by Bauhaus or Godsmack followed by Enya or Fisher coming out of my office. I don’t discriminate with my tastes :) Yes, there are bands and singers that don’t grab me, but they’re few and far between. The one thing that does make me adore a group is the songwriting. I am in awe of people who can touch so many emotions in so few words. In three minutes a great songwriter can make you think, laugh and cry. It’s a talent I try my best to duplicate, but at the end of the day when someone asks me if I’m a songwriter (cause I live in Nashville and if you tell them you’re a writer, they automatically assume a songwriter), I tell them that I’m not talented enough for that. I have to have pages to get my point across :)

Today as I was working, I was feeling nostalgic and had the Indigo Girls on my playlist with a song I haven’t listened to in many years called Prince of Darkness and a line leapt out and grabbed me:

“My dreams came in like needy children tugging at my sleeve. I said I have no way of feeding you so leave.”

It took me back to a time and place in my own life. Times when dreams had to be sidelined for many, many reasons. This weekend I lost a family member and it stings. I remember listening to him play music too, many, many times in my life. Another person who put his dreams aside for the sake of reality. It reminded me of how short and how precious life is. That we only have one shot, so we better make it count.

I’m still chasing my dreams. I’ve been very lucky, thanks to you guys, that many of them have now come true. But it wasn’t easy and at times it was hard to keep going. I remember my father telling me a few months before he died that I should spend the money I was wasting on writing buying lottery tickets because at least with lottery tickets I’d get lucky once in awhile. All the well meaning friends and family members who discouraged me from chasing rainbows because they didn’t want to see my hopes get dashed. “You need to live in reality, Sherri. People like us don’t succeed. We all had dreams when we were young and all chasing after them will get you is a broken heart.” My philosophy was always that I would eventually die and there was nothing I could do about that. The only thing I can control is how I live and I would rather live having tried. My definition of failure has always been: Failure is giving up the day before you meet success. The only guarantee you have in life is if you don’t try, you won’t succeed. In anything you do. Don’t let anything or anyone hold you back. Ever. Don’t make excuses.

Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow is a maybe. All we know we have for certain is this moment. Make it count. Make someone smile. If this was your last hour, how would you want to be remembered? That is what I strive to live by every second of my life. I’m human and I slip and fall at times, but I always stand back up and put my chin to my chest to soldier on no matter the storm or the fight. If you have a dream you’ve shelved, reach up and dust it off. If you are chasing a dream and you’re feeling daunted, take a deep breath and remember that you are trying. That counts for so much. And if your dreams are coming true, remember to say thank you and to enjoy them. To borrow one of my favorite lines from Kung-Fu Panda:

Quit, don’t quit? Noodles, don’t noodles? You are too concerned about what was and what will be. There is a saying: yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the “present.”