The biography of Cash featured various singers and other well known people talking about him. Senator Lamar Alexander from Tennessee was one of those people. He said something that instantly had me diving for my Blackberry to make sure I captured it for further contemplation. He said, “You get in trouble when you stop sounding like where you grew up.” He made the point that Cash never did that.
I watched the rest of the program, but I kept thinking about what Alexander said. How exactly does a person sound like the place he grew up? And what about the people who didn’t have the greatest upbringing? Do they even want to sound like the place they grew up? And why would straying from that sound get a person into trouble?
I think Alexander was talking about the importance of staying rooted in everything that made us who we are—remembering the specific struggles, and lessons learned, and sacrifices others made for us, even if the people who did so weren’t perfect. And I think he was talking our youthful idealism, our outlandish dreams, and our deepest desires. Mix all of that together and you have the makings of a person who will sound believable.
When we forget all of that and begin to get lost in doing what is expected of us or doing something because we have to, then we self-medicate in one form or another in an attempt to kill our conscience because we can’t stand to listen to its protests. Only later do we discover that living a life of detachment cost us the essence of who we are, or were.
Photo credit: Sanja Gjenero