Friday, August 17, 2012


Sometimes the idea of leaving this earth without leaving anything “permanent” behind makes me feel a little panicky. By leaving something “permanent” behind, I mean having created something of significance that would last after I am gone—that would last past this generation. Sometimes it is frightening to think that after having lived my life, having done whatever I’ve done, that time would slowly erase me from history—that when I die, I won’t be on earth in the physical sense, and then eventually, all traces of my existence would disintegrate over time: businesses I’ve worked for may close down and anything significant I did there thus rendered irrelevant, my life fading from being a real person that people knew to a vague memory that my grandchildren pass on to their kids to the cloudy image of an ancestor.

Even if I try to create something with staying power—something that will allow me to make my mark on history—or on a smaller scale, a legacy to leave my descendants: a family business that my kids could continue, music that could exist beyond my life, or even actions, thoughts, theories or ideas—even those kinds of things can’t last forever. Things I created, like songs (Zusters), poetry, blog posts, etc. and things I taught my kids may or may not be passed down or repeated down the generations—and “may or may not” is certainly no guarantee.

How do you carve your initials in time?

I’m not sure why I feel this way. I guess I just want to know that my life had a point. If after 50 years or 100 years, it will be as though we never existed, then what are the best ways we should be spending our time? What should we focus more on doing? What should we focus less on?

My thoughts then turned to the Bible, where it says to not store up treasures on earth, where they get destroyed and stolen but to set treasures up for ourselves in heaven, where they cannot be destroyed or stolen (because you will find your heart in company with your treasures). The Bible also compares our lives to a breath of vapour, or a mist that is there one moment but gone the next. Okay, even the holy Word of God acknowledges how our “treasures” on earth are temporary and how short life is on earth!

I want my life to count for something, but I also don’t want to waste my life trying to make it count with things that won’t matter eventually. I guess I want to know that something significant came from my existence, but it is challenging to figure out what to do, without putting too much of a penchant on things that will eventually not exist.  

Once the sun sets on your life, what do you want to have had accomplished?

I guess I just wonder about how in whatever we do, whether it be our passions (which we sometimes lack the time or resources to do) or our responsibilities (which often take up so much of our time) or a mixture of both, we can make it count both in the natural and the spiritual sense.

Maybe up until now, I have limited my thinking to ways that I can keep myself “alive” on earth when I’m not here anymore, but instead, I should be thinking of ways I can invest in the life I will be living when I’m not here anymore—in spiritual terms. Surely, the plans God has for us here on earth have meaning, and they must in some way ultimately lead to impacting our lives or the lives of others even after they are no longer alive on earth. Surely, the talents and opportunities that God has given us on earth should be used—not buried—but invested in ways that can yield a return that is relevant in heaven.

Surely, we can use our lives on earth to create a legacy that can be carried even to heaven. Surely, all that we have to do and get to do, what we want to do and need to do, can be metered and can blend into what makes us us, and that alone has significance...and when we recognize the spiritual part of our existence, can’t we use the present to prepare ourselves for our spiritual future? Is that the kind of legacy we should be working toward?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

You Can't Do This

I love much about music. One aspect that thrills me is the way that somehow, in some ways, contrasting combinations of sounds and elements can become unexpected partners in perfect sync. (This is, I believe, experimentation’s reward.)

When I saw My Son The Hurricane live about a year and a half ago, I was thoroughly impressed, refreshed and energized by their sound. I witnessed, as I watched all of the action on the stage, the successful partnering of what I had thought were two very opposing musical aspects. My Son The Hurricane is a 14-piece band that incorporates musical elements from two very different spectrums: big band brass and hip hop rap. To date, they have released two albums: Check the Barometer in 2009 and You Can’t Do This in 2011.

I’ve been repeatedly listening to You Can’t Do This lately. For sure, with the combination of a brass band and hip hop, there are many upbeat tracks, such as “Cookie Monster,” “Barrachone” and “Honor Among Thieves.”  Those tracks are balanced with an assortment of more serious tracks, such as “Pushin’ Up Daisies” and “The Life Of An Emcee,” yet what I love about the band’s sound is that even the tracks that have heavier lyrics still manage to have a lightness about them (and don’t make you feel depressed). How can you feel depressed when bright, shiny saxophones and trumpets brighten up the melodies and shine up the lyrics? You can’t deny the light, likeable energy of MSTH’s front man, Jason Bergsma, either, regardless of the mood of the song.

Not only is there a substantial lot of instruments contributing to a full sound but also other instruments and voices get a chance to shine in the spotlight and spice up the songs: a killer guitar solo in “Honor Among Thieves,” mellow, melodic acoustic guitar in “The Life Of An Emcee” and the rich, smooth singing voice so different from the rapping in such tracks as “Pushin’ Up Daisies” and “Barrachone.”

As enjoyable as I have found listening to My Son The Hurricane’s music at home or in my car, I am so glad that I had the opportunity to see them perform live. The energy you hear in the recording is multiplied live because theirs is a show that is really fun to watch. When I saw them live, my eyes were darting this way and that, there was so much excitement on stage—so much to take in. Bergsma did not stop moving—he was so full of life—and I could tell he really enjoys what he does. I would have felt tired for him had not the rest of the band members been continually invigorating me as I watched and listened. At one point, the tuba player and his giant tuba parted the audience like the Red Sea and stood there, taking up a colossal amount of space, the player just playing the tuba, surrounded by fans. There was literally no dull moments, with 14 people to watch.

14 [extremely talented] people, clever lyrics, a balance of creativity and control, a balance of brass band and hip hop, light even while serious, a tribute to New Orleans, funky, lively, entertaining, enthusiastic, energetic, even my son loves them, nothing else you've heard sounds the same--

My Son The Hurricane.

“Shout out to all the fellas and the ladies that ain’t givin’ up ‘till they pushin’ up daisies”
-My Son The Hurricane