IMPORTANT NEW NOTES FROM JUSTIN:
US Tour Day 118: Change the World
We weren't all that hungry, but we stopped into a restaurant/bar to get out of the near–freezing windy cold. I asked Jen, Nej, and Craig a question over a chocolate torte the round–faced waitress had recommended. "If you knew you could change the world in only one way in your lifetime, what would that one way be? Now, I know there are plenty of ways, but pick one."
They looked at me kind of blankly. Craig looked a little interested in answering the question, but not interested enough to actually give me an answer. He said he'd have to think about it. "I'm going to sit on it for a while."
Nej said she'd never thought about changing the world. "I guess I just never thought I could, the world's so big."
Jen didn't answer or even offer an excuse for not answering. I asked her again and she looked away at the television above the bar behind me. Her eyes were far away. "Sorry. I spaced out or something."
I was stunned by their answers—their lack of answers. What was this thing I was experiencing? Was it apathy? Was it disinterest? Or, maybe they were just tired right then and didn't want to talk?
What was it? Perhaps it's just a different way of living—a foreign flavor from a far away place I'd only seen on TV.
I really believe that all people long for the world to be a better place. Maybe they dream of peace in their homeland, an en end to the hunger that resonates in their empty stomach, a cure for the disease that slowly consumes the life of their best friend, or enough money for their mom to finally not worry about tomorrow.
But my new friends' lack of enthusiasm made me wonder: are there those for whom hope has already vanished like the memories of dreams after waking? Or, were the seeds of hope never planted in some hearts to begin with?
I don't understand; I don't relate. Of course, my lack of understanding is the problem. The heart of the matter is really just a question in the form of a statement: Why are they like this? I must answer this question non–rhetorically if I am to have the deep compassion that only blossoms in the presence of real understanding.
So, I ask myself these questions: Why do some doubt their ability to affect their world? And, why have some people never even dared to hope for a better world? What can I do—what can we all do—to change this?
Tonight they played Ana Ng by They Might Be Giants at Independent Bar, so I just had to dance—there was no way around it. It wasn't because the song's beat was great or anything. It wasn't. The song is as danceable as trees growing or sleep apnea. But, I danced anyways—out of excitement, out of solidarity. That song has my favorite video of all times and it's one of the songs that inspired me to start making music so many years ago—during that young time when I still wondered if anyone would ever understand me.
The video to the song played on huge screens above the dance floor, and I watched it between the moments when I was so lost in myself—swimming in my wide smile, seeing behind my closed eyes. And as I danced around like the happiest of fools, I sent a silent thank–you to the people who've inspired me to truly be that person I call myself. They Might Be Giants, Devo, Dr. Demento, Al Yankovic, Camper Van Beethoven, The Dead Milkmen. Thanks, guys. I wouldn't be here doing what I do were it not for you. So, this dance is for you.
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