Finding the Yoda in Yourself and Others!
I was watching “Star Wars Return of the Jedi” recently and considered how well it played into the topic for this week. Much like Yoda to young Luke Skywalker I have been blessed with many mentors in my life that have assisted me in areas where I required greater knowledge than my own. In the realm of music my father and then Joe Lowes, a close family friend, guided me as I began my musical journey. Others pushed my boundaries at Keys Music, SEMO and Belmont College (yes before it was a University). I continue to seek lessons with top musicians here in Nashville and plan to take masters classes to expand my guitar playing vocabulary in country, Travis picking and bluegrass. For the field of media Chuck Voss was one of my early mentors and as I progressed several General Managers expanded my vision especially one in Las Vegas. The revelation struck me in Vegas that we need mentors, or a Yoda, for almost every major aspect of our lives. Not only to provide advice and direction but sometimes just to listen or show us the way through their actions and deeds? When my wife and I moved to Las Vegas in 2001 I made a promise to my late Aunt Tootsie that we would find a church to join there. We became members of Good Samaritan church and a few years later a young Lutheran Pastor named Don Lorfing arrived that would become my spiritual mentor. Of course, with finances we all need direct and suggestions and I have been lucky to find someone I trust in those matters too. Sometimes, like Skywalker, we don’t take Yoda’s advice and only realize the value of their words after we have gone the wrong direction and had time to reflect. It is unfortunate that the hard lessons we learn from our own journey are the ones that stick with us the longest and resonate throughout our lives. When I was nineteen several hard lessons were dealt to me that altered my perspective. First my father passed away from cancer, second there was no will, third I was still in college, fourth I inherited a house and fifth I inherited a small amount of money which I proceeded to squander. What I learned from this: life is short, have a will, finish college, take care of your house (figurative and actual) and extra money is hard to come by don’t waste it. My grandfather tried to provide me sage advice, but at nineteen I knew everything already (oh to speak with 19-year-old me today that knows better) and he was coping with his own grief. Now, with more life experience behind me, I have my mentors for music, faith, family, finance and career. I also have my personal Yodas for music gear acquisitions, values and sales/trades which is always fun. For instrument repair, I learned first-hand from Kenny Martin and Allan Palermo and that knowledge continues to serve me as I repair broken ukuleles for my daughter’s school today. The point is we all need to cultivate mentors/Yodas/guides of our own to share their experience, ideas and advice from a different perspective than our own. The other point that needs to be made is that each of us needs to provide that mentorship to others. I’m certainly no genius or guru by any measure but I do have areas of knowledge and experience that others seek to know. Friends, family and co-workers seek me out for input in some matters and I am flattered that they do so and I’m always willing to share whatever help I can. This is one way that we all can make the world a better place by sharing of ourselves with others that are walking our same path whether that be in music, media, motorcycles, guitars, creativity, being an author or wine making. Okay I think I just expressed every area I have any knowledge in with one sentence. The Star Wars movies remind me of the consistent story of the human condition often portrayed in Shakespeare’s works and probably in Cro-Magnon cave theater before that. We are all on a journey through time and space. It feels unique, challenging and overwhelming to us, but others have and will have these same experiences. We can make this journey alone, make our own mistakes and trudge slowly through the mud or embrace the advice of others. Where upon we should also share our knowledge with others to hopefully help them side step mistakes we have made or dodged in our travels. May you find your Yodas, may you be a Yoda to others and may the creative force always be with you!