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The wonder of Thanks…

by | Nov 27, 2020 | Thanks, The Avett Brothers, wonder

Fannie Mae was located off of Wisconsin Ave in a HUGE palace of a building – fitting for the “home of housing”, but imposing and a little stifling.  As such I had a regular habit of getting out for lunch, often walking north to a great Thai restaurant that had great food, service, and you could eat, solve all of the problems with your OTHER colleagues there, and be back within an hour.  Today I mentioned the new group we formed to play music for our Men’s group at church, and how much fun that was.  My colleague asked when we played… I wondered why …and said Tuesday’s at 730.  He said “Great!  See you Tuesday!”

I didn’t think another thing about it.  You make an offer, and 99 times out of 100, they are making polite conversation.  At 7:25 the following Tuesday, a knock at my door made it the 1 in 100… as here he stood, with his guitar, a smile, and a 6 pack of beer – required for bluegrass. I was stunned, I mean – singing with a work colleague?  What if he is not any good, flat, or worse had terrible rhythm….but always the gracious host, I shepherded him downstairs to the basement.  By this time I had switched over to Bass after realizing 1) we needed one, 2) I had one (stolen in college… inadvertently), and 3) remembering the roommate who said I would never be good at guitar…

I haven’t spent much time on the Avett’s story this week, but by this point, they were on to something that even they had never anticipated.  They wanted to be in a band, and doing it together was actually working out well, and adding the bass player they met in a parking lot (literally) gave them the basics of a bluegrass band.  Not that they set out to BE a bluegrass band, but it seemed logical with these players.  And then, their part-time cook outed himself that he played Cello.  Sure… bring that over.  And their manager loves to play drums – sorta verboten in the Bluegrass world, but whatever.  Here they were in Rick Rubin’s studio where…. Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, and so many had recorded.  Seemed to be working….

.. as my work colleague introduced himself to the other 2 guys, we tuned up – as much as Bluegrass is ever in tune, and he offered a tune.  Our banjo player picked right up, and the other guitar player and I followed along.  I am pretty sure we played till midnight… a series of songs that he would start, and stumble on the lyrics which the banjo player immediately picked up… or vice versa.  And the wonder was… it was magic. This simple lunch conversation turned into all of us playing together for nearly 15 years – every Tuesday evening.  Musical rhythm for a season that was slowly changing the arc of my life…

We would play out for shows – mostly to give us all some reason to actually work harder.  We recorded together once… and realized how hard that actually was.  This picture is from an evening about 10 years in… I am way over in the corner in the hat… the others including the deaf Dobro player, sitting next to our amazing Banjo player – and his $85,000 instrument in the foreground.  You can’t see all the spouses of everyone there for a dinner that my wife prepared – one of literally 1000’s of dinners with “friends” I had collected… in that house from the Stock Options…

Wonder – the ability to stand back and not only imagine things that aren’t, but also be Thankful for the things that are. On this day after the official day of Thanks, what do you need to step back and realize has gotten you here…. and more importantly, can get you there? Where exactly we can put off… What have you discovered in both your leadership and your life that requires some new wonder… and some new focus? 

In my season of gratitude, I have decided I need to spend way less time changing others, and focus on controlling what I can… which will mean, even more focus on… playing.  Literally and figuratively. Another friend gave me a new title for my business cards, and I am going to actually get some printed:  Minister of Encouragement.  There ain’t nobody here who can cause me pain, or raise my fear, Cause I only got love to share.  Ain’t NO Man!

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