Thursday, July 19, 2012

Letting Go of Things We Think Are Good

I've written a lot here about letting go, a concept that has been helpful to me over the past few years. We know that it is good to let go of certain things, like fear and doubt.

But what about letting go of things we generally associate with good, like loyalty? Like things we are proud of? Letting go of something that seems to have worked well?

This week, I renounced my 20-year fanhood of the New York Knicks. I've written about my love of basketball a few times on the blog. I watched Knicks games with my dad when I was young, back in the better old days of the team. The good old days of the Knicks occurred before I was born, and will never be replicated in my lifetime, as confirmed by the events of this week.

See, we long-suffering Knicks fans have had nothing to cheer about for a long time. And then out of nowhere comes this wonderful, overlooked, underdog Jeremy Lin, who set the city on fire, and became a huge international celebrity, by stepping up and playing great basketball beyond anyone's expectations. We thought we were saved. At last, at last. A reason to justify holding on for so long in the first place.

I couldn't afford Knicks tickets, but I stood outside of MSG with my guitar singing songs about him. That's how excited I was.

And now, it has slipped away. And it could have been grabbed. It would have been expensive to grab, but the team has grabbed other expensive things before, and this was one thing that made a lot of people happy. People who had given up on hope. People who needed this hope more than you, James Dolan.

Long story short, it's great timing for me, because I'm moving to Brooklyn at the end of the month, and they now have an NBA team of their own. The colors are black and white (modern, timeless, versatile) and the co-owner is Jay-Z (hello, music mogul).

It's still this traumatic ordeal for me to switch teams. Which seems silly, but I think it comes down to human resistance to change, sentimentality (happy childhood memories of my father and I), and wanting to maintain loyalty. Or maybe even stronger than that, not wanting to appear/feel disloyal, a display of poor character.

But I can make this change. It feels like I'm losing something, but I'm really not. As unimaginable as it still seems, I think I will be happier on the other side.

It reminds me of another change that I really struggled with over the course of my album production. One of the songs that has been most popular with people over the years is called Brass Heart. I wrote it five or six years ago. Many people have told me it is their favorite of my songs, and is definitely one of mine.

When I brought it to my producer, he suggested that I think of ways to change the song before we considered putting it on the album. I was flabbergasted. How could I change a song that people liked so much? And why?

I was very resistant to changing Brass Heart, but I trusted my producer, and after fighting the resistance, I began to search for ways to change the song.

Once I started experimenting with this, in earnest, it became pretty exciting. I had gotten permission to do something I wouldn't have dreamed of doing. It was okay to reopen the decision. Eventually I came up with a change that I thought would be good. My producer like the proposed change. We started working on this new version of the song.

And I like it.

I like it and I never imagined a year ago that I would ever consider changing my beloved Brass Heart. And now it's changed, and I like it. And it's definitely much better than it would have been if I hadn't been pushed to make the change.

So why was I so resistant in the first place?

Maybe the better question is, what else am I so attached to, so convinced is working, that would really be better if I went back to the drawing board?

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