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observing Happiness

by | Mar 25, 2021 | Happiness, observe, Van Morrison

Home » empower » wonder » Happiness » observing Happiness

In the Will Smith movie 15 years ago, we see a man working to pull himself through a difficult period of his life.  Starting as a Stockbroker, he quickly falls into a series of bad outcomes, until he is clearly not “Happy”.  As we watch this true story brought to life, there is a particular phase he observes again and again. “Thomas Jefferson… how did he know to put the pursuit part in there?  That maybe happiness is something that we can only pursue and maybe we can actually never have it.  No matter what?”

The title song from the album, today’s cut is probably one that is most associated with Van and his “genius”.  I found a review that was pretty scathing… “‘Tupelo Honey’ hasn’t a single defensible element.  The melody is unexceptional.  The chord changes are for a Week Two guitar student.  The harmonies are all pop pap.  The orchestration is tasteful but boilerplate – most of the movement provided by a rhythm piano with two guitars providing independent arpeggios, an organ supplying the sustained chords, a pretty darned good bass hidden back in the mix, and Connie (Modern Jazz Quartet) Kay making a living playing rock drums.  Van the Man’s vocal is sincere, engaged, without fireworks.  But the lyrics, if you look at them out of context, are just plain embarrassing” With observations like that, you would wonder why he would keep going…

…I have had the quote from Teddy Roosevelt on my wall since I started working full time in 1976.  It is still up there, and still just as important to look at… daily.  “It is not the critic that counts…” and if you don’t know the rest, then you probably have never been in the arena.  It looks easy, and there are lots of books written about how to do it “better”, “best”, “be your best self”, etc.  It has turned into a mainstay of our current culture to comment vs do, and certainly, the talking heads on all sides are getting rich canceling each other out with their “thoughts”.  And the music business has plenty of it’s own issues, even in Van’s time to make you wonder why anyone would do it.  And there is of course the reconsideration of Jefferson himself… and his own pursuits… 

I believe that this is one of his best songs and, even the same author turns in the other direction later in the same review, commenting that this song really has never been covered by anyone – because it is so quintessentially Van.  Having moved his family across the country, and rebuilt a band from scratch, he was in fact channeling the Happiness that was real in Woodstock, where many of these songs were written and even this picture was taken.  And the love for his wife showed up on this album in most every cut.  As has been my practice, listening to the whole album, you really hear the connection back to Astral Weeks, and even Moondance, and some Them.  But don’t take my word for it… on this, or frankly anything… 

… in the Designing Your Life work that I do, you build a Board to help you assess progress, and assist you.  The authors specifically discuss that calling them “Directors” is not helpful because while direction might be what you want, it is rarely what you really need.  “Advisors” would simply be interested in giving… Advice – their life projected onto you.  What you are looking for is a group that will help YOU make decisions, to help you understand the risks, and step into them with their …. Support. 

Sounds easy right – until you do it…which I did Monday.  Assembled from different parts of my life, they all have observed me in varying states of “Happiness”… and in aggregate, are helping me think more clearly about what… I want.  In the “arena” we all worked together to figure out what would work, and what needed more improvement… but … we engaged, and got onto the field.  You will have a ringside seat over the next few months, and your comments I hope will be more like the review above was at the end 😉 

The templates from the Book will help, and best practices from the community that has been built around it will be tried out, but ultimately, I will learn more from trying than commenting.  Which is exactly the point – Design Thinking is like riffing in the studio.  Van would try things, and try again, and eventually, collectively they would get to something that we still marvel at today… which was probably Take 27 😉  In this cut you will see Van live, and observe carefully for something we will discuss more tomorrow.  

Most of the leaders I have spoken to in the last 18 months are looking for something “different” to “make them Happy”.  If that’s you, consider which people you have around that observe you… the real you.  It is probably not a large list, and you may not be ready for this now, but I think that group is worth having … always.  And, the first question they are going to ask you is, what are you looking for?  And while “Happiness” may sound clear, you might want to think a bit on what was around you the last time that was true…. Maybe, even, some … Tupelo Honey.


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