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“The best music is essentially there to provide you something to face the world with.”
- Bruce Springsteen -

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

#80 Human Touch by Bruce Springsteen

Last night I watched the Kennedy Center Honors. During the tribute to Mr. Springsteen, I found myself rather emotional. He is just a man. Just a person. So, why the outpouring of so much adoration and tears? Why the moving tribute to this boy from New Jersey? The Kennedy honor highlighted how Springsteen’s music is woven into the fabric of America and has proven to be a voice for the lost ideals and values America is supposed to stand for. But it’s so much more than that. Springsteen has provided us with something that transcends American ideals or political ideology. He has touched us in a place that few people know how to reach. He has offered us so graciously “just a little of that human touch”.

Because he was willing to take his search, his life’s struggle and expose his pain to the world through his art, he has drawn thousands upon thousands of souls to his music, and consequently to himself. He doesn’t just sing about the “losers” of the world, providing them with some sense of redemption, a sense of belonging and hope, rather he is one of these lost souls in search of truth, in search of understanding. His personal journey has been painted on a life size canvas for all to see, to hear, to feel. This willingness to be vulnerable and honest in front of the world has touched the lives of so many, touched them in that tender place, that place that when you allow yourself to go there makes you want to curl up in the fetal position and just cry, cry, cry. It is that same place that also stirs you from the safety of sleep and makes you believe in yourself, in your fellow man, and in life again.

What can we learn from such an artist? What can we learn about humanity from what he has given to the world? Most of life is lived posturing, pretending, trying to be something we are not, presenting a front that is “greater” than what lives inside of us. We try so hard to run from those things that live at the heart of our humanity and live stoic lives of quiet desperation in an effort to maintain and support some unwritten rule that says true feelings are not allowed. They are not appropriate. They are not politically, socially, emotionally correct. This is why we embalm our dead, dress them in their best outfit, surround them with flowers and cry softly into our Kleenex as people say, “death is a part of life”, “he’s in a better place”... This is not living! Where is the raw passion? Where is the “surrender” to natural desire and emotion? Why can’t we too live in that place that brings us together and closer to our humanity rather than isolating one another at the times we need honest human connection the most?

“You can’t shut off the risk and the pain” without losing the possibility for human connection. It is connection we are all searching for and connection we all push away. When someone like Springsteen sings about all those things we have tucked down deep inside of us, the bells of truth begin to ring. We know there is truth. We know therein lies our secrets, our desires, our pains. We know in our darkest of hours, “when all the answers they don’t amount to much”, we are not alone. We have been touched by someone else who has taken a chance at giving it all away. That is life saving. That is the “human touch”.

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