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Gooding, smiling


“Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution.” —Albert Einstein

When it feels like the world is jumping off a cliff, nothing is easier to subscribe to than cynicism. I must admit inside of my songwriting, lyrics, and general worldview, I tend to dwell on the dark side. I have forever adored songwriters, artists, comedians who shine a light on everything wrong in the world, and I adore the tour managers and old road dogs who can fill a whiskey-fueled night with anecdotes of misery and pain. But there comes a point where cynicism is dangerous. When it’s time to create something, when it’s time to make decisions, and especially when it’s time to lead, I want hope on the front lines. Cynicism is a surefire way to stay far away from dreams and goals—a perfect way to limit success and the success of loved ones around us.

Am I tilting at windmills or saying we shouldn’t consider consequences? Absolutely not. But I think this equation might hold true…




I’ll take “might work” over “will not work” anytime. The failure of an idea you are excited about hurts, but it will get you to the next idea a lot faster than sitting on the sidelines. I want to get good at executing my wildest ideas, not my tiniest doubts. They nag and nag till you got nothing left but excuses and regret. No more.

I grew up seeing the world as a dangerous place. I grew up believing there was a pretty good chance the sky would eventually fall. I used to have a dream that exactly half the sky instantaneously went dead-black in a perfectly divided line. I would then wake right before the other half imploded. The other shoe always waiting to drop. After some wild-ride anxiety attacks and some therapy (best damn money I ever spent), I began to learn where that ol’ darkness was coming from. I learned to welcome it and flow with it the best I could, and, of course, like all artists, to attempt to harness it in the songs and at the shows. Like many people, there are still days I don’t want to get out of bed, but I vowed to keep swinging and to never look back a long time ago. Though I move between highs and lows (like every other artist with LSD … Lead Singer Disease), I have worked hard to take the edges off with clear goals, daily writing and recording, workouts, diet, calling people who make me laugh, etc.

Over the years I have begun to learn where most of the demons hide out, and I’ve locked quite a few of those bastards on the other side of the door. But like an alcoholic who must stay on high alert, I still have to watch for certain behaviors creeping in. The good thing about learning where the monsters live is you can see ’em coming a mile a way. Almost to the point you feel sorry for them (see Peter Gabriel’s “Darkness”).

Here’s some of their best (and dirtiest) tricks in the book:

—What if? (That’s a mind-killer for sure)
—Let’s shoot it down so there is no chance of failing
—Keep your head down or someone will call you out
—It failed before so it will probably fail this time
—Just look cool and unaffected and mysterious

In dealing with one another, in building the kind of world in which we want to live, in creating ANYTHING—a song or a building, a poem or a table—I believe it helps to believe things will get better each time we try. If it ain’t getting better, we ain’t trying hard enough. This is not blind optimism. We humans have the luckiest gift in the world: We LEARN and we grow. Through willpower and hard work, we evolve. For every person trying to fan the flames of hate right now, we can light this world with our kindness, and we can learn to inspire ourselves and others instead of focusing on everything wrong and throwing stones.

I’m gonna attach a picture of me smiling to this post today ’cause, frankly, I haven’t been smiling a lot lately. Each day my news feed works hard to convince me we are losing the battle for civility, decency, justice, kindness, even the quest for basic intelligence.

I’m making an effort to stop scouring my phone for every story that tells me what I already know—we are in troubled times. But what generation doesn’t feel that way? All I know for sure is that love is the only thing to conquer fear (and cynicism). If I have to force myself into hope and constantly remind myself to be grateful, so be it. I want to meet and talk with people with GREAT IDEAS. I want to read books about people and ideas leading us out of the darkness. I want to be inspired and make and play as much music as possible while I’m on this planet. I’m very lucky to know what it is that moves me, and I want to do as much of it as possible.

Angry with the world too? Good. There is work to be done.

Doubtful? That means we are AWAKE and asking questions. But let’s push past it—there is work to be done.

You are too hip to be bothered? Cool. Take your selfie and step aside. There is work to be done.

The only way I can guarantee we won’t get to where we want to go is if we stop right now. If we use half measures. If we talk ourselves down.

Change is gonna come. Things are gonna get better. Do I believe that 100 percent? No. But do I have to believe it to put one foot in front of the other? Yes. And so I will do it wholeheartedly, and I will keep moving forward with a vengeance. Waging peace.

Thanks for reading, and let me know what gets you through.


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