“On behalf of the group and ourselves, I hope we pass the audition”
On January 30th, 1969, these were the last words that would be said on that rooftop. From that point forward, The Beatles were over…
As per my morning ritual, I spent some time this morning listening to music that makes me feel good. The music that makes me happy. Today’s selection was watching the Beatles play on that London rooftop years ago. There’s something tragically magical about the entire scene. A band that had shaped rock and roll history forever, that had spent so many years together, grew up together and eventually changed the world together, playing one last hurrah before they would eventually crash into flames. The band had been on the brink of collapse for sometime, and it was in the recording of the album Let It Be that the band finally started caving to resentments that had been building up for years. You can attribute it to any number of factors, they certainly did, but at the end of the day, The Beatles weren’t the The Beatles anymore, you can see it on all of their faces. If you were to watch that concert without sound, it might all seem a very drab affair.
To watch that concert is to see the last flicker of the light of their creative process, and it is something beautiful. The motivation for the concert was a disruption of their pattern. They were tired of being in such close proximity to each other, working on the album, and decided to move it to the rooftop for an abrupt performance. The entire thing was born out of resentment, and from it, came one of the most beloved and historic performances in music history.
After watching it, I took some time to reflect on it. I wonder what that must have felt like; looking down and seeing London come to a stop for you. People stopping in the street, getting out of cars, climbing rooftops and fire escapes just to get a little closer to you, just to hear you, to see you. The entire concert was an act of resentment, but it was a part of the creative process and an act of disruption, and act of defiance even. After watching the concert through, I started to think about my own life, and in particular, the last year. My entire professional existence has been about disruption. I harbor a lot of bad feelings towards people and towards myself. The reality of my situation is that I have made a habit of disruption in all that I do. I would argue it’s the only thing that really matters, and for that, I have a lot of people in my life and in my professional circles that really don’t like me very much. It’s not easy, I want to be liked. I want to be popular, and I want to feel like my superiors and subordinates admire me. As I reflect on the rooftop concert though, I can’t help but feel a certain air of defiance and resentment for that attitude. I shouldn’t be liked, and you know what, that’s okay.
This year has been a journey in self-acceptance for me. A journey in reaffirming who I am after I spent so much time trying to change that person. The reality of my narrative is that I don’t know how to change that person, and even if I did, I don’t know that I would want to. I am not a complacent person, and perhaps my drive gets me into trouble, but out of it, I have seen great things created; I believe that those things are the things that matter. The creative energies that were born out of disdain, out of hope, out of pure anger, those are the energies that not only have defined my own existence, but the evolution of the human experience. I have felt that creative energy drained as of late, and after some reflection, I realize that I have been letting other people take it away from me. I have been trying to be someone that I am not. Someone other than the person that has brought me this far in life, someone other than who has placed me in the roles I hold today. If you’re reading this, I hope that you learn to realize that in yourself. I lose track of myself often, I think we all do, but the important part is to learn to be self-aware when that is happening. Other people will kill your creativity if you let them, and it’s easy to let them, in fact, it’s too easy to let them. In the rat race of wanting to be accepted, you find yourself on someone else’s timeline, in their narrative, living your life in a way that is unauthentic to you but comfortable to them. We call this expectation. This is not to say that expectations are bad, but some are certainly better than others. I have made a habit, whether purposefully or not, of breaking expectations. When I assumed my role of student body president, I broke a lot of expectations. People expected me to act and think in a very specific way, a status quo that had been established for a long time. It was comfortable, it made people feel secure, that things were going in the right direction. In some areas, that was okay. I can accept that. Sometimes you have to let a sleeping dog lay, but there were other areas where I couldn’t, where I asked questions, where I put my foot down, and where I fought. For those reasons, I got a label. That label is difficult. I heard people who I had a lot of respect for saying I was unruly, that I was combative, or my personal favorite, that I “just don’t get it”. At the end of the day, I am difficult, I am unruly, combative, and in a lot of ways absolutely crazy. I’m zealous, and a lot of people have a hard time dealing with that. Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s because my name isn’t followed by a few letters, maybe it’s even my pay grade, but the reality is that I will never leave this university with roses at my feet. When high-level decision makers eagerly ask my team when my term is up, that should be a sign. For some, it’s a sign that you failed, that the gig is up, the goose is cooked, and that for all intensive purposes, you are not worthy. I’m here to tell you that is not the case. It’s okay to be a square peg in a round hole. It’s not easy, life never is. I want to be liked, and I want those same decision makers to look at me and think, “He was really great. I will miss him when he is gone.” but that would be inauthentic to who I am and what I want to accomplish. I want to leave this place in a better place then when I discovered it, and that means breaking the mold sometimes. It means turning down a different road, asking the hard questions, and going toe to toe with people that you care about or want to impress. Sometimes you will stumble and sometimes you will make mistakes, I could write a book on the mistakes I have made just this year, but at the end of the day, I can confidently say I have fought for what I believe is right, and that is what really matters.
“The biggest divide in this country is not between Democrats and Republicans, it’s between people who care and people who don’t care.”
A friend of mine introduced me to that quote, and I think it’s wonderful; however, I think it needs to be taken a step further. It’s not enough just to care. I care about a lot of things. It’s action on those things that encapsulates the human experience and drives progress. There is an even finer line within that definition. There are people that care in this world, and I believe there are a lot of them. Humans are not naturally apathetic creatures, that attitude is taught and reinforced by society. The idea that the problem is too big, that you are too small, you don’t have the right credentials or enough money. These ideas are indoctrinated in us right out of the womb, and we come to accept them as a reality. This accepted reality draws an even finer line in the distinction. The even bigger divide in this country is not between people who care and people who don’t, it’s between people who care and people who care enough to do something about it. Taking action is hard. It’s scary and a lot of times it hurts, but if you want to live a truly outstanding life, you have to take action. Maybe that’s in yourself, or outward into the world, but you have to take action. Life is truly an audition, a chance to make the cut, and nobody ever got a call back by doing nothing. I’m not saying you have to go out in the streets and start a protest (unless that’s your thing) but do something. Write, speak, sing and dance, contribute something to the world. It won’t be easy, and a lot of people won’t understand; however, the people that do may be inspired by your divine disruption to disrupt the world around them. That to me is human progress, and it is the only thing that matters in society. Do something unique, do something vulnerable, and do something that pisses people off. Some people will love you, some people will hate you, some people may even stand in the streets to watch you, but nevertheless, you have created an idea. Ideas are dangerous, and ideas change the world. Every moment is your audition, make it count.
Stay hungry kids.