Sunday, July 5, 2009

Are You a Pilgrim or a Tourist?

It has been an interesting weekend for me. Two of of the events of the weekend have reached an interesting confluence and I would like to share some of my thoughts with you.

As I said in my post yesterday, I have been at the Festival for the Eno all weekend. I have seen a number of fine bands and had a really good time. One band that particularly struck me was the Chapel Hill indy rock band, Lost in the Trees. More on them in a minute.

This morning, I was sitting in church and the pastor encouraged the congregation to consider whether they are a tourist or a pilgrim. A pilgrim is invested in their journey. They are on a mission and are living every move they make. The pilgrim doesn't know exactly what tomorrow will bring, but is honest in their motives, accepting whatever tomorrow may bring. A tourist, on the other hand, uses a guide book, follows the map, and generally gleans what they can, but does so without significant risk or investment. They have specific expectations, but don't really take a significant risk.

As I sat and thought about this metaphor, my mind drifted back to Lost in Trees. This group of young adults are definitely pilgrims. As I watched them play their set at The Festival for the Eno, I could sense their investment. Each one of the members are fine musicians in their own right. The band includes 13 members: lead singer and acoustic guitarist Ari Picker, mandolin, bass, drums,4 piece brass section, and a 5 piece string section. Many in the group double on other instruments which include glockenspiel, accordion, percussion instruments, and others. This music is honest. The lyrics are honest, the songwriting is honest, the performance is honest. These folks are invested in their journey. I just love watching them play. Their friendship is evident on stage. Their investment and caring for each other and the integrity of the music is evident from the minute they walk on stage.

The word honest kept coming to my mind as I watched them. And, I must say, that is always my goal when I play. I want to be honest. I want my music to be an honest expression of my heart, my emotions, my soul. I might not be the most virtuosic player, but I can be the most honest. I can also be the most honest teacher. I feel like that investment, that honesty, is the key to expression and impact.

I don't want to be a tourist teacher or musician. We have all had tourist teachers. They use the guidebook. They go through the motions, give the facts, and maybe even effectively get the point across. The problem is, they aren't invested.

Think about the best teacher you have ever had. Were they honestly invested in the process, in the material, in you? Of course they were. They were a pilgrim. They had a mission. Now think of your favorite musician or band. Were they giving you and honest expression of their heart the last time you heard them play? Were they invested in the music, the communication, the performance? Of course they were. They are a pilgrim musician. That is why you were drawn to them. That is why I am drawn to Lost in the Trees. They are pilgrims.

Who are some other pilgrim musicians. Of course there are many that I could name. The two big ones that come to mind for me are jazz violinist, Christian Howes and virtuosic mandolinist, Mike Marshall. Both of these magnificent artists get right to the heart of the music. They get right to the heart of the humanity. They are honest. They are invested fully. They are pilgrims. In fact, many times over the years, when someone has asked me about Chris Howes or MIke Marshall, I have described both of them as totally honest musicians. It is about the highest compliment that I can give to a musician.

So, today, I encourage you to consider the following: are you a pilgrim or a tourist? Are you invested in your journey? Are you invested in your art? If you are a teacher, are you invested in your mission? I aspire to be a pilgrim. Not every turn will be the best, but I will endeavor to be invested fully. I wish the same for you.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks Scott. This really got me thinking. I think I've always been a pilgrim as a bassist, but my status as a strings teacher has moved from tourist to pilgrim over the years.