Being a “human doing” is easy for me, and probably the closest common denominator to what integrates Happiness into my day. If you remember fractions, and frankly who doesn’t, denominator means the quality/number that reduces those crazy-looking numbers into something you can combine together. Without stretching the math metaphor too far, it means that it is present in all of the things you are working with. All my best stories include, “I was … “ followed by something I was doing… A “human being” …and being Happy at that… a complicated conversation to execute…
… having never been officially diagnosed, it is likely that ADHD would not be far from my natural state. I was just reading a study that demonstrated that listening to music was detrimental to focus, concentration, and results. I can almost guarantee that the person leading that study has no trouble concentrating with silence. Me – not possible, or at least requires tremendous concentration. It is likely why I enjoy playing bass – you have to keep time with the drums/mandolin, while also following the melody of the guitar player and singer… and play your part. In that moment, MRI’s have proven that Happiness is being executed across your entire brain.
If you have been keeping score, Van went into the music business because it beat working on the docks in Belfast, and playing Sax came easily. He was involved with bands and slowly worked out front as the singer and writer. And – while he had some major hits by now, he disliked most of the albums, producers, and songs with the possible exception of Astral Weeks, and now maybe Saint Dominic’s Preview. One common thread was the time in the studio was always where he felt the most comfortable, and even on records he didn’t end up liking, most of the experiences there were Happy.
Much of his best music was executed in upstate New York, which was where The Band went with Dylan years before. Their songs from Big Pink were written and recorded there, and it was clear that Van hung around them before it was spoiled by the Woodstock festival. The Band decided to go out on top, and celebrate their Happiness by executing a final concert filmed by Marty Scorcesse. Van was invited to come and sing one of his songs with them – a huge honor.
By the end of the ’70s, even with the huge hits, he was realizing that his common denominator was small groups, and certainly not the massive crowds that demanded huge concerts. Like other great musicians and performers, those who hone their craft do a lot of it alone, introverts who can channel what many of us are too busy executing to notice. Van was falling into the same issues that trapped others, stage fright that was only overcome by large amounts of alcohol or drugs to dull their inner voices. After 1972 he really stopped touring, and almost stopped performing entirely… until The Band called…
Certainly in the last 20 years I found that the bias towards execution was something that others loved about me, particularly in the workplace. If you want something done, give it to a busy person, and I would add, someone who just loves doing and may not think about who is being run over. That last part I eventually sorted out, but really it has only really gotten “better” as I am now older and frankly just don’t have the energy I did before. And… in realizing I have to marshal my resources, I now choose the things that have a common denominator of Happiness – and that is starting to be decoupled from executing.
When I was young, my family system was big on doing… and most of our Happiest times were building something. I brought that into my own family, and there are many pictures of us under cars, or digging out plants, or coaching/playing Soccer together, and then jetting off to our next activity. With some work and coaching, I continue to do better, and thankfully didn’t fall into the trap of alcohol or other things that can dull the feelings. Lately I have found some real joy and Happiness in simply pausing for small reflections on “where is my brain now”, and that is providing a clear path forward for me, and for new groups of leaders I work with.
Today’s another one where I will say again to “watch the video”. It really is not about the song, one of his hits, and this performance is amazing. But watch towards the end… Having literally been pushed on stage by his manager, he jumps into the song, and performs it well… and rarely looks with open eyes into the audience. He will smile, and look at the musicians – The Band – used to working around prima donna’s for sure.
As he sings his last line, the song isn’t over, but Van is… he walks quickly off stage so he doesn’t have to deal with the accolades and face the audience… an execution for him. Happiness – what is it really – for you? We are reaching the end of these thoughts, and I hope it has encouraged your own thoughts, and something you can continue to push forward. Like a Caravan.