Saturday, October 2, 2010


The story is that Robert Johnson went to a dusty crossroads in Mississippi, and in exchange for the ability to play guitar better than anyone else in the world, sold his soul to Satan.

Lots of people say he was the greatest guitar player ever -- it's hard to tell, partly because there are only about 50 known recordings, partly because he died when he was 27 years old, and partly because there has been so much said about the guy, that it is nearly impossible to separate truth from fiction.

I don't really care about the guitar playing.  It's the Crossroads thing that interests me.

I have stood at a lot of crossroads and made a lot of questionable bargains, but I've never seen the Devil.  Every mess of pottage I've ever bought, I've bought from myself: all the compromises, all the bad deals, the Devil had nothing to do with them.  He may have been hiding in the bushes, sniggering at my folly, but he wasn't brokering anything.

Every single day, we have to choose.  Yesterday, in the temple, I realized that some long-held and cherished beliefs about my own history were wrong, or if not exactly wrong, unhealthy, and that I needed to abandon them.  These beliefs were my blues guitar, all hurt feelings and alienation, and I've played them with virtuoso skill.

If I am going to be who I am supposed to be, I can't keep playing.  They aren't major deals, these "If x hadn't conspired against me, I would have been a major league y" sorts of thoughts, little myths we all create to convince ourselves that nothing is our fault, nothing is our responsibility, and that we were supposed to be Derek Jeter, or Oprah Winfrey, or Zog, the King of the Albanians.  Living without them, being faithful enough and mature enough and humble enough to abandon our victim myths and accept responsibility for our lives (and more importantly, to be honestly grateful for the lives we have), is infinitely more rewarding than being the best in the world at anything.

Even playing the blues.

No comments:

Post a Comment