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  • Writer's pictureJH

Episode #108: The Stau On Drugs


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I want to do that.

That’s my take-away from the War On Drugs show that I attended last Sunday night. Beyond the extraordinary performances, the fabulous songs, the sound, the lights, the open air, the stars, the Toronto skyline, the CNE whirling away behind us, the sheer emotion of it all, the take-away is that I want to do that. Play music like that. On stages like that. To audiences like that. I’ve lost sight of that dream a bit during Covid as music shut down and things went sideways, but I was reminded in the most powerful way on Sunday that the dream is still alive.

And, of course, it’s impossible.

That’s the first thought that comes into my head when I indulge the dream in my mind. The old voice of reason and reality pops up and says, “Give it up, man. Grow up. Let it go. You can’t do it and never will. It’s impossible.”

Terrible what bullies we can be to ourselves.

That bullying voice kills dreams dead and it’s time we stand up against it. It’s time we start seeing possibility instead of impossibility and that’s the second profound realization I took home with me (along with a pretty great War On Drugs t-shirt). Things are possible, kids. Especially things that you feel an intense or emotional inclination to do. I think we have the dreams we have because in some way they’re meant for us. They’re ours to claim if we do the work and keep the faith and stop trying to control the way things unfold. These are all hard lessons to learn and difficult practices to master. I’m a neophyte with this stuff. The beginning man. And yeah, I’m pushing 50, but we also need to start rising up against this notion that 50 is too old. Or 40 or 60 or anything. It’s time we stop limiting ourselves with b.s. and start seeing potential.

Do the work, keep the faith, let things unfold.

I’m trying to focus on that right now as I re-embrace this musical dream of mine. There were affirmations last week to go with the War On Drugs show. I played gigs with the great Kay Howl and Fresh Breath. I recorded drums for Kay’s new single. This week we’ll shoot a video. You may think it’s too late or you’re too old, but then you look at what the Universe is presenting to you and maybe you’re not so far away after all. There’s too much negative stuff everywhere. The news and conversations and stereotypes about age. I tire of it lately. Mostly I tire of serving it up to myself and accepting it as true.

The real truth is that there is always possibility if we’re willing to see it. There is always potential if we’re willing to allow it. There is always a chance (not the drunk Australian navigator) if we’re willing to push past fear and try.

I expected to leave the War On Drugs show with my mind blown, and I did, but I didn’t expect it to be such an existentially important night for me. I was emotional a few times during the show. The band’s music was part of the soundtrack to my anxiety during Covid and on the tour I did with Sarah Smith last fall. The songs took me back to darker times but, as when Sarah Harmer played songs I associate with my Covid collapse, hearing them made me realize how far I’ve come. And maybe now it’s time to start moving forward again.

Great band. Great show. Great night.

So what dream are you tempted to give up on this week? What faith needs to be rekindled? What feels impossible right now? It’s time to start believing again. Do the work, keep the faith, let things unfold.

I hope you’ll be as inspired by this episode as I was by the show on Sunday. Thank you as ever for listening, and please do drop me a line here with your questions, comments, and music suggestions!

Turns out someone filmed a great capture of Strangest Thing from the War On Drugs show. Here it is:

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