“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
This month I wrote an article to be included in this issue, that I ended up omitting after our friend Paul passed away. He had such a community presence that we felt it appropriate to dedicate a few pages in his memory. Though we describe ourselves as a “music and art” magazine, what truly drives us and fills the Jamwich with its vibrant colors, is this community we live in. We are so privileged to have friends in different cities all over the Mid-Atlantic and East Coast, and we constantly see how connected we all are, and how the people are just as important as the music.
The article that I didn’t publish this month was about reducing suffering and creating a positive impact on the world. It seems like a huge feat, but it is really about adjusting our life to align our actions with our true desire for peace, compassion, health and happiness. One of the ways to do this (and what I consider the most important), is to take responsibility for yourself and the impact you have on others. It’s the basis of idioms such as “The Golden Rule,” and “Do the right thing.” When confronted with the choice to do what is right versus do what is easy, you should “man up” and do the right thing. When a friend needs help, you should lend a hand. When you always act in this way, you show others that humankind can be trustworthy, decent and kind, which persuades them to also act in this way. Your actions should give people hope, and you will be repaid in kind.
I noticed that Taco and I, especially Taco, always tries to circle back favors from our friends with favors returned. I feel like we are always trying to sew loose ends on a constantly unraveling sweater, but I mean that in a good way. It’s a never ending cycle because so many of our friends are there for us when we need them, giving their work and their friendship their all, and we are sure to do the same. It’s beautiful when you know you can rely on people to always do their best to do right by you. I feel this way about our Mad Tea Party Jam staff, and I try to act with the same diligence when I am on another festival’s staff, or doing any sort of work at all for that matter! Together we get stronger, and the favors and the sharing and the paying it forward never stops.
Paul was one of those people that believed that humans were decent, and tried to set an example by working to create a positive ripple in the community. He was a hub for so many different connections and friends, that I didn’t even know half of until his passing. His festival, Freequinox, was one of the only free festivals of its kind in this day and age, and he was adamant about keeping it free so that all of his friends could gather together for the celebration. He was passionate about creating beautiful experiences, and loved beautiful things like the glass art jewelry and “family silver” he invested in and sold. His passion was for the beauty that was tangible, whether felt through music or seen in art. This is lucky for us, because he left behind so much for us to treasure and hold in his memory.
Ralph Waldo Emerson says the point of life is to make some sort of difference that you have lived. What will you leave behind, and will you leave it better than it was before you came? As a lover of art and creator of a magazine, I plan to leave a trail of material memories after my passing, but I hope to also leave a positive impact on the people I’ve known, so that they can pass on that energy infinitely. What I think ol’ Ralph got wrong, though, is that life is also about being happy, but that one is easy. How can you be unhappy when surrounded by such beautiful people, beautiful music, a beautiful world?