FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

The Music Store

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jul• 21•13

dance moves

D and I go to the Music Store, and I ask an employee for drum sticks. The book I’m reading on creativity says a soul that is free and alive is a soul that creates.

The author says we err when we think of artists as a group of rare, elite people. He says we must release art into the hands of ordinary people, like a father and son at a music store.

To create is to be human.

To create is to reflect the image of God.

So, who is an artist?

Anyone who has a soul.

This is Erwin McManus’ thesis in The Artisan Soul, and as I listen to D play the drums and keyboards, I wholeheartedly agree with his point. “Do it again,” I say to D, urging him on the drums. “Do it again.”

We see trombones and saxophones. There’s tubas and trumpets.

Guitars. Banjos. Bongo drums. Electric keyboards.

In a corner of the store, we sit on a bench and he gently presses down on a single key with his pointer finger, starting with the high notes. He plays one note at a time, going from high to low notes, never bashing the keys or playing with his whole hand.

“Is this high or low?” he asks. “This is low. Am I right?”

D listens to each note instead of playing as loud as possible. He does the same with the chimes and triangles.

He sits and slaps the side of a cajon, and I sit on one next to him and tap out a beat. He repeats the beat, and I tap a new one, and he repeats it again, and then we drum to our own rhythms before his impulses lead him elsewhere.

We dance on flashing colored circles on the floor from strobe lights, and I don’t care if anyone notices us. Seriously, we do. I join him for a father-son dance. What can I say? An artist creates. We’re artists.

In a back room, we sit on a bench and tap buttons to create electronic beats. I pick up a fresh supply of ear plugs. He plays the bongos one last time. This is how we roll at the Music Store.

He creates. We create.

We’re artists.

***

My dad worked as a reporter in high school, writing a Teen Column “The Beat” for a newspaper in Portland, Maine. My brother was on the high school newspaper staff The Sword and Shield, and as a sophomore, I ended up in a journalism class too.

It could have been the newspaper advisor, my dad, or my counselor who signed me up, but I don’t recall it being my decision. The newspaper advisor, searching for new talent, most likely asked the counselor to sign me up; but it could have been my dad by making a phone call to the counselor.

Journalism was just a another class at first–no different than any other class. Information to be learned. But then something changed in my second year of journalism when I joined the newspaper staff.

I became a sociological critic on girls wearing the same duck-flat books; I wrote about the band U2 and a soccer player whose nickname was the Mad Mohican; I wrote about a guy in my sixth-period class who taught a karate class; I wrote about a teacher traveling in the summer across the United States in her RV; I wrote about terrorists blowing up airplanes; and the kid who rarely talked found his voice.

How much turns on coincidence? Or providence? Or someone encouraging another person to try something new?

The old journalism teacher retired, and the new teacher encouraged me to apply to a summer journalism camp taught by professionals; I was accepted to the camp, and when I returned in the fall, the teacher asked me to teach the class what I’d learned, and it was probably more than they wanted to know.

A fellow student at the camp approached the Los Angeles Times Sports Editor about answering calls on high school football scores. The editor said to call him at the end of August. I asked him if I could call too.

I got the job and, later, began writing sports stories for the newspaper while I was still a high school senior.

***

I started driving a taxi in college to write a book about all the strange, weird people in Los Angeles. I met the retired secretary for my high school who invited me in her home and served me leftover cold pizza. There were toy dolls next to cat poop on the living room floor. She used a walker and showed me a polaroid picture of herself. Naked.

I picked up a Vietnam Vet at a hotel who I drove around for a few hours as he drank Vodka out of a brown paper beg. He rolled down the window and tried to give money to people. No one listened to him, so he grabbed my wrist and I listened to him. By the end of two hours, I had a $120 tip ($20 at a time) and he passed out when we returned to the hotel.

I was a really good listener.

When I started driving a taxi, my mom had a prayer group of women meeting every week at her house, and they prayed for me to become a Christian. One day, my mom told me that if I was ever in a crisis, I could get down on my knees, pray to God, randomly open the bible and God would answer my prayer.

I thought that was a stupid idea.

I crashed the cab one morning and,  depressed from a relationship break-up, I remembered what my mom had told me and found myself on my knees, telling God that I didn’t know if He existed, but if he did, I just wanted to have hope, and if having hope meant turning from my sins, I was willing to do that. As soon as I prayed, the heaviness of my depression instantly was gone.

***

A friend from church invited me to join a homeless ministry where we bought breakfast and taught a bible study, talking to the men and women before and after the study. A woman from the singles group heard me give an announcement about the ministry and she came to check it out.

We had talked on the phone for two hours and became close friends. She had just rededicated her life to Christ, and I had just dedicated mine to Christ, and we both talked mostly about our love for Christ.

One night, we went out with a group from church to sing at a homeless mission. Afterwards, as we drove to a coffee place, she started singing crazy while I drove, and when we played checkers, our eyes locked whenever one of us moved a checker. The drive and the checker game–that’s when I knew Lisa would be my wife.

***

So, ad D plays notes on the keyboard, I can’t help but wonder how one class, one drum he plays, one prayer I pray for him, one person he meets, one movie he watches, one song he listens to, one person who encourages him, will lead him toward his path in life.

 

 

 

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