Sparks Flying: The Gifts of a Teacher
    “Without inspiration the best power of the mind remain dormant. There is a fuel within us that needs to be ignited with sparks.” -Johan Gottfried Van Herder

    This week I was ignited with sparks from the “Spark Seeker”  himself, Matisyahu. Not only did he create my personal theme song of 2012 (Live Like a Warrior), that got me through a lot of hard days manifesting my dreams, he is also a genius of a human. After venturing to the Taft Theatre for a live performance, he captured my full attention and I intend to keep him as one of my teachers. He is a shining example of the way I want to embrace life and spirit.

    Last winter, hours before dawn, I would get into my cold car each morning and let his lyrics envelope me and fill me with strength. “Today, today live like you wanna …” (Matisyahu). Through his powerful words, he reminded me day-by-day that I COULD do it. I COULD create the life I wanted, the life I had dreamed about for so long. In my many low moments, I was determined to remember. “We all got dreams that we can’t let go, we wanna be brave, don’t be afraid.””It’s your life to live, I can’t live it for you.” “Search heaven and the seven seas, the answer lies inside you. You know it won’t come easy, you’ve got to find your own truth.”

    But, it wasn’t until seeing him perform live and hearing his real words that I’ve begun to understand the power of having a teacher. For over two hours, I sat frozen in my seat, captured with absolute awe and completely in the moment. There was no time and space, there was just music–beautiful, powerful music. The lyrics were expertly performed, very real and seemingly directed at my very needs.

    Three quarters of the way through the concert, the accompanying band exited the stage and left Matisyahu seated behind a single microphone. Suddenly, another mic appeared in the audience. This was our chance, an opportunity to ask him anything. I froze and stayed grounded in my red velvet theatre seat. But, as others asked away, it became clear–Matisyahu has walked his talk. His lyrics have been plucked directly from his own life experience.

    For those that don’t know him, part of his musical fame stemmed from the unique blend of his styles–reggae, pop, rap and beat-boxing–as well as the fact that he was an orthodox Jew. But, let the emphasis rest on was an orthodox Jew.

    This from Wikipedia:
    “On December 13, 2011, Matisyahu posted a beardless picture of himself on Twitter, explaining on his website:
    ‘No more Chassidic reggae superstar. Sorry folks, all you get is me … no alias. When I started becoming religious 10 years ago it was a very
    natural and organic process.  It was my choice.  My journey: to discover
    my roots and explore Jewish spirituality—not through books but through
    real life.  At a certain point I felt the need to submit to a higher
    level of religiosity … to move away from my intuition and to accept an
    ultimate truth.  I felt that in order to become a good person I needed
    rules—lots of them—or else I would somehow fall apart.  I am reclaiming
    myself.  Trusting my goodness and my divine mission.

    Get ready for an amazing year filled with music of rebirth.  And for those concerned with my naked face, don’t worry… you haven’t seen the last of my facial hair.’ ”
    He has not let his history affect the possibility of who he wants to be now and in the future. He has refused to be boxed-in by the way people know him. He has decided, instead, to be true to himself.

    For much of my adult life I’ve resisted the idea of having a guru, a mentor, a teacher. But, after my encounter with Matisyahu, I’ve begun to ask, “why?” Perhaps, it is my independent streak, my need for control. Or, maybe it’s my belief in my ability to carve my own path, not to follow in someone else’s. But, what I really think is that I was envisioning what I thought a teacher should look like, not what my teacher could look like. Today, I realize I have many teachers that speak to different pieces of who I am and who I want to be. I see a South African woman on a Spinning bike pumping a room with love and inspiration; a beloved parent with a veracious intellect and a heart of gold who would do anything for me; a middle aged guy with curly hair running into the mountains with a copy of Emerson on his hip; or, in this case, a man with Middle Eastern heritage beat-boxing his heart out on a stage.

    I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet this amazing human. We waited for over an hour by his tour bus until he came out of the Taft. One hug, several words later, I was giddy and filled with inspiration.

    So, I’ve decided to take Matisyahu’s advice and “… let go of what [I] know …” because “… all I’ve got is my life…” You see, in the pursuit of my recent goals, I’ve come to realize I’m not an independent entity and I can’t do it alone. Dream-crafting is tough business and I need help. I need inspiration. I need to see that what I’m aiming to create is possible. I need to surround myself with people who value a similar vision of the world and who will feed me. I need to know that it’s okay to be free of who I used to be so that I can be who I’m meant to be.

    Thank you, Matisyahu (and all of my teachers of the present and the future). From one spark, there is now a fire burning brightly within me.

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