JKLTip If you’re supporting anyone else try to take the pressure off, it is that simple
Everyday I play a gratitude song. I play a song from an artist like Mac Miller or Avicii who struggled with mental health and are no longer able to create their art. While their legacy lives on, they don’t have the opportunity to bring new art to the world anymore. If nothing else it’s great music, but it’s more about inspiring me to create while I can. There is a longstanding history of artists losing their lives young, but it’s a different time.
It is a good daily reminder that life is short. If we keep waking up in the morning, it’s a sign that we should be grateful for the opportunity to create. We should take advantage of every moment because we never know when our last chance will be. If you have a great idea of something to make, why wait?
It also builds a lot of perspective. We need not care what others think, or second guess ourselves. If we do, we might run out of time to make what we want to make. While we can, we should create, publish and repeat. I also work with a lot of youth who struggle to do what they love because they are so stuck on avoiding pain that they hardly have time to be creative.
Don’t Do Drugs
When I went to play my gratitude track last week, I came across a video of Mac Miller’s dad talking about how it’s not worth it to risk death from Fentanyl. This video reminded me of a few lessons from my life.
While drugs are never good, if we understand the biology of desire or the avoidance of pain then it is more than understandable why addiction exists. It’s easy to learn why people would find quick fixes, rather than difficult coping strategies. Simply put, it is human biology, but what was once alcohol, or opiates that we can get help and recover from has become a different game. It’s a lottery you don’t want to win to have drugs laced with the wrong thing. Life can end in an instant.
When I was growing up there was a poster in my basement that said “grounded at 16”. It showed a coffin with a caption like “no more parties, no more girlfriends, no more sports, no graduation, no work.” The idea was simple, poor behaviours can kill us. Things like drinking and driving, drugs, cigarettes, all the things that were bad were promoted against. After school programs, parents, teachers tried their best to remind us to do good, don’t do bad.
While that’s moving and all it didn’t really stop too many teens, a statistical average from doing drugs, having sex, or driving fast. One could argue these programs were a waste of money. But, it’s different now.
The Risk Is Higher
Mac’s dad’s speech was eerily similar to a talk from my former football coach. He said “things are just different now”. Like young college athletes we got a little tough at times, which could get out of hand. Long story short, there was an argument, and a little pushing that occurred when an uninvited guest showed up to our party. In the good old days there might have been a scrap with a little rolling around on the lawn. But this night things were different.
Instead of putting up a fight the person left and retrieved a hunting rifle. He quickly returned and opened fire. The person shot was extremely lucky to live thanks to quick, nearby paramedics and surgeons.
The next morning after the shooting we had a team meeting of football players. Picture a team of college athletes on a knee in front of the head coach. This big, tough, father figure type guy everyone looked up to went on a rant. With tears in his eyes, he said “I would trust if I put any of you, with one of them in a back alley fight that you would be the one to come out. But it’s different now!”
Not Worth It
This world is different now. It’s just not worth it. I work with a lot of youth who spend the majority of their time running from pain. I work with teens with addictions and mental health struggles. While they are unique individuals, their stories are so similar. So many patterns repeat themselves. The main pattern is that they overthink life. They put way too much pressure on themselves to be what they think that others think they should be.
I spend the majority of my time trying to protect them from those negative influences in their lives. The funny thing is, these are often the people who think they are helping the most. These kids need to appreciate, that it’s not that big of a deal to pursue what brings them joy. With perspective and gratitude, these kids can work within their strengths, in their areas of passion.
One thing I hope to get across to them is that they can find a life where it is safe to do what they enjoy. That the pain that needs numbing, the desires they have only exist because of a false understanding of how this world should be. Having the perspective that it’s not worth all of the risks these days is huge! While this world goes crazy outside, we can easily find a safe space to create art, for a long time. But first, we have to take the pressure off.