Today I was brought back to my youth. In the early hours of a snow covered Midwestern day, I played a few songs as part of a To Write Love on Her Arms presentation during a high school assembly in Iowa City.
The white marble floors, drinking fountains, long sterile hallways, brave teenagers trying to navigate another day amongst their insecure peers.
I forgot how hard high school was. Seeing the 700 kids in the auditorium looking at me with a mix of hope and indifference it reminded me how in HS it was cool to "not care", or "not try hard" at that age. Having too much of an opinion or drawing too much attention to yourself was risky.
When I was in HS my grades were directly proportionate to what I enjoyed. PE was any easy A. I scored honors in Woodshop. I wasn't ready to learn how interesting numbers could be, or the truths that they could speak. I did however love English, partially because I had a really great teacher who made me want to care. I think that's what it takes to get through more difficult times, having someone who believes in us.
Again, I forgot how hard high school was. Everyone is trying to impress their peers, figure out why there body is changing, or just get through the day. Add anxiety issues, drugs, and an evolving level of common knowledge and things can get scary. A kids future can hang in the balance - stunted development, criminal records, suicide. The downward spiral.
Okay, I may have gone down the dark road with this, but I really see the value in having an organization (like TWLOHA) that is talking about issues like depression. Depression is taboo, people don’t want to talk about it and it can make things worse. I have a varied history and real understanding of depression and when I hear statistics about 350 million people suffering from a mood disorder that is cause for a suicide every 60 seconds, it makes me shudder.
Needless to say, the writing is on the wall. As these young faces reach for opportunity, it seems they are also facing uphill battles. I was moved by talks from Chad and Chloe at To Write Love on Her Arms. I hope more people check them out. As I pondered how this affected me, I realized that when I'm on the bus in the morning, or walking down the street, or connecting with a friend that there is an opportunity there to be a bigger person. To forget my gripes, my problems or my issues with someone else and just be kind. I know easier said then done sometimes. One thing I've been 'practicing' since Iowa is pretending everyone is my friends brother or mother. When I loosely know someone I treat them differently. I think its easier to believe in someone when you know them or when you care about them. If it wasn't for a few key people believing in me throughout the years when I was starting to make music, I wouldn't be writing and touring today.
I’m now back in my fair city – surrounded again by mountains and the sea. Sending good vibes from the NW.