Ran into Art Murphy October 25, 2007.
I hadn't seen him in about 3 years, and before that years and before that etc...
Each time I saw him there was beauty and a warmth between us that you just can't put into words. I know now, he was my mentor.
Recently, I was asked to be a mentor at the local college. I thought it meant that I was to be a tutor and teach or instruct. At the college, I found the mentor who reminded me of the most important lesson in life.
Throughout my life, I had, like most of us, not always, but sometimes, overlooked learning from the forgotten people. Overlooking wisdom is a common human frailty.
After I was diagnosed, I spent a lot of time in the psych ward, there were lots of people like me. In there, as in most places, we all had labels.
I was no longer the lawyer; I was the manic depressive. From then on, at least absorbing the self stigma that I wore, things would always be perceived differently.
I had to discard all labels and put everything aside in order to survive. People look for any type of connection and often it was a connection of ideas, thoughts or circumstances.
I met some of the smartest and wisest people I have ever met there; I often didn't know their occupations or sometimes even their names but many of these individuals were truly gifted.
When I got out, I would pick up my old habits. Labels started to apply again. I didn't like the way that my new label made me feel or how I felt that label warped the perception of myself by others.
Funny thing, after I questioned my own label, I started questioning everyone else's. It took a lifetime to learn. There are no real labels, only people.
I knew I wasn't crazy, I was just unique. Each life has its own set of joys and tragedies. We deal with, communicate and adapt to this set of circumstances each and every moment.
Choosing this moment to reflect on the joys and sometimes tragedies will make the next moment different.
Wisdom and learning surround us. Sometimes I need to be reminded that you can learn something important from every single person you meet. It makes the next moment different. Puzzles are only hard when we impose rules on them. It is those limitations that keep us from letting our souls soar.
I stopped by one night with something for Art to read. It was a journal that I had been writing in; they were my private thoughts. I wanted to share them with someone that would not only understand, but be honest with me about them.
I thought that some of the things that I had written not only had meaning to me but they had imagery and stood alone.
Just as I was leaving, he gave me his CD First Gear by Backslider. He and our friend Ronnie had put a band together because they just wanted to play music. If you are a musician, you paint pictures with sound and words.
If you paint something beautiful, there is this need to share it. I shared pictures that I had painted with words and Art shared his music. That CD became our theme album and gave a lift to the whole family. My children loved those songs and each had their favourite.
It gave us a beauty and an understanding of poetry and song that will continue to roll around our heads and like in the uncluttered mind of a child, always be close to the surface, just waiting to be accessed.
Those memories, for us, will be precious. There isn't enough money in the world that I would trade for that particular gift.
I shared my journal with Art. He is the first person outside my family that read it.
I thought that there was something worthwhile in my journal, but I turned to my mentor because I knew he would give me an honest opinion. He told me it was real; so I summoned up the courage to keep walking.
Some day, when I grow up, I want to be like him.
his web site is www.myspace.com/artmurphyandbackslider
his CD can be found at http://www.saltwatersounds.com/