Last week my husband and I took our son Matt and his wife Robyn with us to a Kris Kristofferson concert. The venue, an old movie theater-turned-concert hall, was so intimate that as we were leaving Robyn said, “I feel like I’ve just been hanging out with him in the living room.”
I felt the same way. Much of the friendly atmosphere was due to this singer/songwriter’s no-frill style. He had no opening act, no accompanying musicians, no dancers, videos, bells, whistles, mirrors or smoke. He just walked out on the darkened stage with his guitar and harmonica and did what he does best: stood there at the microphone and sang his heart out for two hours.
If you’ve read my post from March 22, 2011 titled “Kris Kristofferson: Midlife Mentor,” you know I’ve been a huge fan since I discovered his music in the mid-seventies. Since then I’ve attended perhaps five of his concerts, two of which were held in similar settings. Although I would have loved nothing more than to walk up afterwards to shake his hand and tell him how much his music meant to me, I was far too self-conscious. After a lifetime of hiding how much I care about things others consider unimportant, I couldn’t bear the thought of being criticized for being too bold or looking like a gushing teen-aged groupie, so I just stood watching from the back of the hall while he greeted fans less inhibited than I.
Over the years I’ve castigated myself for wasting these and other precious opportunities to act on my heart’s desires. I know the value of “seizing the day” and “following your passion,” and I’ve experienced the rewards of doing this many times. Yet there were also times when I couldn’t take my own advice. Why have I let self-consciousness hold me back from doing so many simple, harmless things like jumping at the chance to hire a waiting camel to ride to the site overlooking the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found? Or accepting an invitation to sing a song I love on a stage with a group of musicians I admire?
Years of analyzing my dreams have brought some insights. Because I admire Kris Kristofferson so much for his courage and integrity in overcoming his fears and following his passions, he’s shown up in many dreams as an image of my positive animus. The issues in these dreams always relate to my deepest desire to boldly sing my soul’s song in my writing and speaking, and to do it with the kind of honesty, simplicity, and grace he embodies.
I’m delighted to report that as of last week’s concert I’m a bit closer to my goal. After the kids left to relieve their baby-sitter, Fred and I walked to the back of the building where the tour bus was parked and joined a group of waiting fans. In my purse was a copy of the March 22 post with Kris’s picture on the front and a handwritten note scrawled in the margin. I can’t deny that my resolve wavered when he came out the door and walked toward us, but after watching him sign autographs for several people, with Fred’s encouragement I moved into an empty space on the railing, handed him the post, and told him why I’d written it.
I didn’t get his autograph. I didn’t need one. His warmth and graciousness, so evident in the photograph above, are more than enough reward for overcoming so much of my debilitating self-consciousness. Thank you, dear friend of my soul, for showing me how to live from the heart.
The end-goal of every psyche is to become more conscious and self-aware. You were made to want oneness, a doable antidote to the divisiveness that plagues today’s world. Self-awareness — by which I mean the acceptance of the opposites within ourselves — when combined with a sincere desire to bridge the divides between them, is the bridge to consciousness. And consciousness is the bridge to psychological and spiritual oneness. Your purpose in life is to do whatever you can to build these bridges. You’ll never be happy if you don’t at least try.