We need the arts now more than ever


Let’s face it – the world is not a sane place right now.

From the politics to the wars to raging fires and horrible weather events, things are crazy and getting crazier every day, it seems.

We can simply ignore as much of this as possible, of course. Sticking our collective heads in the sand won’t help anything, and might have the opposite effect, but it can at least give us a little peace. That peace is hard to find on social media or at loud family gatherings.

Some retreat to their families. Others enjoy going outdoors and communing with nature. Others play sports or workout to retune their minds and bodies.

These are all great things to do, but I rely on the one thing that has helped me since I was a kid: Music.

I spent hours listening to music when I was young, of course. And my teenage years were so engrossed in music I barely had time for school. And yes, I had the grades to prove it.

I started playing an instrument (trumpet) in the 5th grade, and moved to baritone by 7th grade. I did some time in the high school marching band before making the guitar my main instrument.

I wrote music and played in bands in high school, like many teens do. No, those songs weren’t that great, but being creative was a muscle I loved to flex, and still do. In fact, it is a muscle I have to flex to survive, it seems.

I played while I was in the military. I played during college. I snuck in song writing and recording sessions while covering high school football games at night and county board meetings during the day as a new reporter.

Being creative was an outlet I had to have in my life. The stress of being a new father and working long hours and buying my first home were all washed away when I plugged in and played – or simply strummed my acoustic guitar.

I have hours and hours of tapes filled with songs I have written and recorded. Some are very good. Some are not so good. But all of them were a great emotional release when I needed it. And at times, these creative sessions have truly saved my sanity.

I still write and play music multiple times a week. My wife and I preform as an acoustic duo doing songs we wrote. We also play in an all-original rock band in the region. Yes, I am still playing loud rock music and I plan to do so as long as I can. No, it is not a young man’s game. It is not a game. It is the heartbeat of my life, and the life of many others.

If you have a son or daughter or grandson or granddaughter and they want to play an instrument, please encourage them to do so. Put up with the drumming, or the piano playing or the awful early stages of them learning the guitar. It might lead nowhere, but it might also be the beginning of a lifelong passion that gives them limitless joy.

In today’s crazy world, we need to find our joy. We need to find an outlet from the crazy. We need art in our lives, I believe. For me it is music. And without it, I would not be who I am.