Trying to get it right

I admire Willie Nelson. I have loved him from a distance since I was a teenager.
I don’t know Willie Nelson; he doesn’t call me at home (an expression my daughters will get). But I love him for the parts of him I have imagined.
He shares my birthday so that must have been a sign for me to pay attention.
He also has a ratty old guitar. Who couldn’t love someone who dragged the same old guitar around for a lifetime.
Willie is 82 and he has been an activist his entire life—before being an activist was considered cool and honourable. Willie has been through a good many battles, I would guess, and I think perhaps his guitar was with him the whole time.
There must be a story there.
I recently saw Willie Nelson perform for the celebration of John Lennon’s 75th birthday. Willie sang “Imagine.” That choice may have seemed an unlikely one at first, but when you get right down to it, “Imagine” was the perfect fit for Willie Nelson.
Neither Nelson nor Lennon felt any particular pull to the state of celebrity and instead used their position to be an outspoken advocate about the wrongs that society seems determined to repeat generation after generation, as though we may never get it right.
Lennon or Nelson were decidedly ill-behaved by the standards of some, having both come from a childhood fraught with heartache and loss, abandoning parents, and sorrow; where music seemed to save them.
Lennon said the only power of celebrity that should matter is the freedom. That, perhaps, should be an obligation—to speak out against wrongs—because the powers-to-be won’t tell you to shut up (I’m paraphrasing).
I don’t think Willie Nelson gave any power to those who might have wanted to silence him. He just kept going, sometimes trusting those he shouldn’t have while they lost several of his fortunes over the score of his life.
I’m not sure he cared. He didn’t need much—just his old guitar and some medical marijuana I suppose.
I read not long ago that creativity finds its seed in the burdens of childhood; in wounds we carry with us to the grave. The article cited Charles Dickens as an example of such and the poverty he experienced that filled most of his stories—often criticized for the purity his protagonist was laden with in a backdrop of cruelty.
I think that’s why we read; why we connect with laughter for comedians who joke about our own frailties, our humanness, why we scribble down lyrics from songs and place them on our bathroom mirror so we can start each day with the hope that we get it right.
What more is there than trying to get it right?
wendistewart@live.ca

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