If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud. Emile Zola
An act of kindness is uplifting to the soul. Lailah Gifty Akita
If you are always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be. Maya Angelou
I’m swept right up in a popular culture current these days and I have to say that I’m enjoying the ride. It is the network television hit the Voice that has me flying high on the rapids of excitement and whooping with glee. And if you ask me about the show, I’ll go on and on. And if you don’t ask me, I’ll probably bring it up. For years, I was the one listening politely and nodding my head as a friend of mine shared with me just how positive this reality show is that places a multitude of musical hopefuls in front of a quartet of coaches from the music business and eventually sifts through and finds a winner. Sure, I thought. How can it be positive when, week after week, contestants who are singing and performing their hearts out on live television are weeded through and booted off? That’s what I used to think. But now I’ve changed my tune. I’m in agreement with my friend. I’ve climbed on board this popular culture rubber-raft-of-a-show on a downstream high vibe voyage. And I have Joshua Davis to thank for my participation.
I’ve known Josh’s father and his stepmom for twenty years. They are friends my husband and I hold dear to our hearts. And their son Josh, we hear news of him through these friends. When he formed the band, Steppin’ In It, while in college, we became fans as did our sons, attending the band’s lively upbeat concerts when they performed in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and buying their CD’s. And my respect for him deepened when he chose to follow his dream and make a go of songwriting and music-making not only as vocation but also as career. After a trip to the Middle East in February of 2012 where Josh acted as a cultural emissary during the Run Across Palestine, he wrote and produced a personal and poignant album, and my husband and I attended a performance where he shared the stories and songs that rose up from this experience. As he performed, I felt my inner walls tumbling down. The situation in the Middle East is complex for sure — solutions don’t come easily when we struggle to figure it all out in our heads. But, oh my, when we soak in the stories and when we listen to the music and when we realize that people are people and music is a universal language that creates bridges that are concrete and tangible, our hearts are lifted up and we feel hope. That’s what I felt that evening. And I loved Josh for bringing me to that place.
And now he has brought me to the Voice. In comparison to a world where the Palestinians and the Jewish people of the West Bank are singing together, it seems like a frivolous place to find myself, but here I am, watching Live when I can and On Demand when I am committed to other activities. And you know what, this place that might seem glitzy or superficial or Hollywood polished is as expansive and heart-opening and tender as a concert filled with Middle East peace-building. I can’t believe I’m saying it, but it’s true for me. There is the utter pleasure and delight of supporting beloved friends who are the proud parents of a participant who has now made it into the Top Ten in the country. And there is Josh who brings a sense of wonder and joy, of deep groundedness and peace to the show with his soul-filled voice and guitar playing. I am his fan and I vote for him with gusto. And then there are the other participants, the ones who now find themselves in the Top Ten, and the ones who have been eliminated. The talent is amazing and I find myself cheering for them all, in awe of their willingness to be vulnerable on live television, their willingness to stretch the boundaries of what they think are their capabilities. They inspire me. And they fill me with their music. And the cast of positive characters continues. There are the four coaches, all super stars, super performers with their own super careers, and they bring to this stage a sense of generosity and kindness and honest critique that I didn’t expect from super stars or from a reality show. They see the best in the performers. They want the best for the performers. They uplift, and they believe, and they share of themselves and their connections. I could go on and on. The host of the show brings his best self to what he is doing, as does the audience.
And isn’t that what we all want?!? To be seen, uplifted, for others to witness and draw out of us our best selves?!? And to do the same for others?!? Always and in all places. This show is a reminder for me — that I am more expansive than I think I am, that, I, too, can muster up the courage on the stage of my life to stretch my boundaries, and that I can encourage others to do the same. It is a reminder for me to ride the current of positivity, of upliftment where we all are winners and where the ride itself is the reward.
Thank you, Josh!