The pandemic that won't go away, predictions of recession, supply chain disturbances. It all adds up to that feeling that you have the blues. I spent this past weekend listening to Blues music at a Blues music festival here in Maine. Blues music has been described as a good man having a bad day. This musical genre is thought to be music that expresses emotions like sadness, loss, and the difficulties in life.

In these times of frustration and difficulty, it would seem to be the perfect music. It isn't like Country music in that if you play a song backwards your dog comes back to life, your truck runs again, and your wife doesn't leave you for your best friend. But, it just may be the best music for the times we are living through. Not for the reasons you are thinking of.

You see, Blues music is really celebratory music. It is about the strength to get through difficult times. It is about hope and learning from life lessons. It can be fun music that gets us laughing at ourselves. So, yes it is appropriate music to the times

we live in. Unlike social media, it isn't just another way to complain about our troubles and agree with each other about how bad our lives are. Listening to the lyrics and stories of the performers this weekend left me feeling more optimistic about the future, happier about where I was in life, and reminded of what's really important. If you are a Blues music lover, you know what I am talking about. If not, I would like to share why I find optimism and hope in the Blues.

One young artist shared how he learned the importance of humility from an older,

July 2022

much better known artist. They were sharing the stage with several other blues guitar greats. During the jam session each would step forward to show their abilities. There was no predetermined order, they just stepped in when there was an opportunity. This young man felt hesitant and somewhat intimidated that he may step on the toes of these greats. Everyone was playing at the same time, taking turns to stand out for a while. When he

looked over to the older master, he saw him standing to the side, eyes closed with his arms hugging his guitar against his chest. He wasn't playing. He was listening to the others and visibly enjoying what he was hearing. The old master waited to be asked to play and then bowed to the

young man that it was his turn. Even a performer doesn't always need to perform to show his greatness.

Several artists told stories of a small act of kindness that changed the course of their lives and careers. These acts of kindness were offered with no knowledge of what they would result in. You never really know the effect your actions have on others, positive or negative. Being aware of that fact, even with a stranger you will never see again, can make the world a much better place.

One of the great female voices in Blues was there. Like many of the most powerful female blues artists, she was from the south where Blues music was born. So she has that delightful way of telling you what you need to hear without offending you. A lot of Blues grew out of gospel songs sung in church. You can feel the passion they sing with. One of her songs was about asking God to remove the bad, hurtful people from her life. It was a song that made you laugh, but it reminded me of advice I received and has proved to be important in my happiness. It is the idea that we invite people into our lives, and to be our best selves, we need to "remove" from our group of friends those that don't strengthen us. As it turns out, we can't remove everyone because some of those people we are related to. If that is what you are feeling, just think of it as a theater. You don't have to seat these hurtful folks in the front rows. Maybe they need to be seated in the balcony.

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One of the best known names in Blues is that of Keb' Mo'. He is arguably the best minister

of positivity in this genre. A favorite song of mine is "Good To Be". His lyrics say, "It's good to be you, good to be me. Good to be young, good to be old." We are human BEings. It is definitely good to BE. In these divisive times what better message than simply, It's good to be you, good to be me.

Last weekend was like a two day seminar in life for me. You can find life's lessons everywhere. You just have to be looking for them. When you find them, take the time to listen. Listen with your heart.

If you are feeling like you are at the end of your rope, turn off the news, put down the newspaper, and turn on some Blues. Music heals the soul, opens the mind, and quiets the spirit. You may just learn to spend more time with the people who walk with you in the positive direction. Remember it is Good to be you. My challenge for you is to perform one act of kindness every day. No matter how small it is it will improve the lives of both you and the recipient.