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Forest Bathing, Miranda Lambert, and Jason Aldean
Two hot topics and a prescription for the madness
I’ve been in the beautiful country of Japan for the last two weeks, touring with Christopher Cross and the gang. This is my 8th time here and I love it so much! Yes, it’s a l-o-n-g flight (13.5 hrs), but it really isn’t too bad if you load up your tablet with some good movies or binge watch a series you’ve been meaning to check out. They even have decent Wi-Fi on the plane so you can look at social media, text friends, or shop online to help pass the time. I always get aisle seats for long flights so I can get up and walk around when I feel antsy and a good set of noise-cancelling headphones is a must-have too. Traveling as much as I have over the last few years I have learned what makes trips easier and I definitely make sure to incorporate those things into my plans. Good self-care!!
PRO TIP: My new favorite travel pillow is THIS. It is amazing! A bit expensive but really worth it if you struggle to get comfortable enough to sleep on long flights.
Anyway, we played 12 shows in the cities of Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka and Toyama. I didn’t do as much sightseeing this trip as I have in previous visits because the heat made it too hard to walk around, but I still got out and enjoyed a few things. One morning, my friend Joy and I went to a Bamboo Forest that had been planted over 200 years ago. It was beautiful! On the grounds was also a traditional Japanese house which was amazing to see.
After walking through the park, Joy and I decided to just sit quietly on a bench for a bit and “forest bathe”. Have you ever heard of that term?? I only learned of it a couple of years ago. The term emerged from Japan as shinrin-yoku, which means “forest bathing” or “taking in the forest atmosphere”. While Japan is credited with the term shinrin-yoku, the concept at the heart of the practice is not new. Many cultures have long recognized the importance of spending time in nature to over-all human health. Therapists have been known to recommend forest bathing for certain psychological ailments. It totally makes sense. And it totally works. Try it.
For more info on forest bathing: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/article/forest-bathing-nature-walk-health
Now on to the “hot topics”…
MIRANDA VS THE SELFIE GIRLS
While I was gone, there were several controversies flying through my social media feeds with seemingly everyone chiming in with their opinions and indignation. It was quite alarming how quickly I saw everyone jump into one camp or another, and how they immediately vilified anyone who didn’t see it their way. There were a few thoughtful, less reactionary posts about it all and I appreciated those takes, but mainly it was just mud-slinging back and forth. It’s hard to digest much of that.
The first hot topic was Miranda Lambert calling out some girls at her concert for taking selfies. I saw the two extreme positions going head to head quickly. Some people defending Miranda, saying it was absolutely 100% rude of those girls to take selfies while Miranda was performing and she had every right to call them out. Then there were the people defending the girls, saying since ticket prices are so high these days, the girls had every right to do what they did and enjoy the experience however they wanted to.
Over the last few years, I’ve tried to embrace non-dualistic thinking. I don’t always succeed, but the more I practice mindfulness, the easier it’s getting and I find it really valuable, especially in situations like this. In my opinion, neither side has it right. Or maybe I should say, BOTH sides have it right… up to a point. I find this to be the case in most opposing scenarios. However….
….I have found that the “truth” is rarely found in the extremes.
So why do so many embrace extremes? Well, I think it’s because black and white thinking is just easier. We don’t have to take into account any of the nuancés in the situation, or try and understand another point of view. We find a slant to the story that makes sense to US, and then by golly we make a STAND about it!! However, people and situations are complex and nuanced. Good people do bad things and bad people do good things. Binary thinking can be really harmful and it’s been on full display lately.
I have been trying to avoid spouting out my opinion on issues that I haven’t researched both perspectives on, or that I don’t personally have experience with. For the Miranda issue, I feel I have an educated perspective on both sides of this particular situation because I am a professional singer as well as a music fan. As a singer, I have experienced the distraction that cell phones bring into a performing space. I also realize it is just part of the concert experience these days. Could Miranda have handled the situation with a little more tact? Probably. However, it’s not easy when you are on stage performing in front of thousands of people to always handle situations perfectly when something throws you off. It’s HARD, y’all. I’ve been there.
Honestly, I feel this situation calls for “both/ands”, not “either/ors”. Here is how I see it:
Fans deserve to have a wonderful experience at the show they have paid to come see —- AND, performers deserve to be treated with respect while performing for you.
It’s not one or the other, it’s both.
So how can both of those truths live side by side without bumping into one another? First off, PERFORMERS need to understand that their fans can get caught up in the experience and sometimes do things that feel rude. They don’t mean to upset you. They are here because they LOVE you! No need to get overly offended at people trying to capture the experience. Sometimes we can take ourselves a bit too seriously.
However, that being said, FANS IN THE AUDIENCE… READ THE ROOM!!!! Sometimes it’s perfectly appropriate to record the experience and even take selfies (see my recent instagram post at the Toto concert in Tokyo. I was definitely using my phone to capture the evening!) However, in intimate settings, during intimate songs, while the performer is pouring out their heart and soul in a song that means the world to them and to the other fans in the audience, don’t make yourself the center of attention by choosing THAT MOMENT to take a group selfie with the flash on! It’s not only distracting for the performers, but it’s distracting for the other fans that are around you, trying to take in the moment and enjoy the song they have paid so much money to hear.
It’s about using good sense, common courtesy and acting appropriately. Why is that so rare these days? It seems we have lost the ability to compromise and find common ground.
We are living in a society of “my rights” these days, and when “my rights” bump into “your rights” it gets ugly… fast.
Yes, we may be within our “right” to do something, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. In Galatians 5, Paul writes about our “freedoms” and how we are to use our freedoms, not for our own gain, but for the benefit of others.
Gal 5:13-15—-It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?
I don’t know about you, but those verses convict me every time I read them. A powerful and timeless truth.
One more thought on this issue: My sister was recently at the Garth Brooks concert in Vegas. His shows there are cell phone free. I saw where many of his fans were bummed at first, but then after the experience, said they LOVED it! My sister agreed. She said it was awesome!
What about ya’ll?? Would you attend a cell phone free concert?? Where do you lie on this issue?
I honestly don’t have a lot to add about this situation because everything I just said in response to the Miranda debate works for this too. Both camps have taken sides and have attacked everyone else who doesn’t see the situation their way. Really BAD behavior is coming from both sides. However, I will say there is one more layer to this situation that bothers me, which is the layer of racism that many have called out. Now before my conservative friends blow their tops here, hang on and hear me out.
We all think we are “experts” on racism, right? By that I mean that we all think we have a good grasp about what racism and/or racist behavior is and what it isn’t. And we definitely think we know whether we ourselves are racist.
How many times have I heard someone say, “I’m not racist, but…” - and then proceed to say something incredibly racist? Way too many.
Personally, I’ll admit that I have had to learn a lot of humility in this area, because I have no doubt that at some point in my life, I was the person saying, “I’m not racist, but…”. Gosh, that’s hard to type out, but it’s true. I just didn’t know better, but I’m trying to change that now.
Part of changing that means that I listen to my BIPOC friends and when they tell me something is racist, I believe them. They have been faced with racist behavior their entires lives and I have not. So who would know better about what it is and what it isn’t but the person who has spent their lives dealing with it. It’s just like women who point out misogyny but men don’t believe them and try to tell them they are “over-reacting”. Women know when a man is being misogynistic… trust me. We can smell it a mile away. BIPOC people know racism. I will defer to them on this every single time.
Look, I don’t know Jason Aldean personally so I can’t know with 100% accuracy what his real intentions were with this song. I would love to give him the benefit of the doubt… but his words and actions about it now are concerning to me. The way I see it, if Jason Aldean honestly had no intention of underlying racism in his song and video, then I would love to hear him say something like: “In my heart, this song was only about how people in small towns look out for each other and protect one another. However, if there was anything that promoted racist behavior in any way, that was not my intention. I would never encourage racism of any kind.” I think a statement like that would defend his song and show that he cares if he offends BIPOC or not. Instead of a caring statement, it seems he is just claiming that the people who are pointing out the problematic issues in this song just want to ruin his life and “cancel” him.
I have no doubt that there are some people who want to cancel Mr. Aldean - but maybe, just maybe, there are also people just wanting him to see what he’s doing and learn from this. Maybe they don’t want to cancel him at all, but would rather see him grow. Sadly, his behavior reminds me of a previous friend of mine that would constantly hurt my feelings and when I would bring up their behavior as hurtful, they would simply say, “I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, so just get over it. You are being too sensitive.” They tried to make me believe the problem was ME, rather than take responsibility for their hurtful actions. This is what it feels like with Mr. Aldean’s response. This is their problem he says. He didn’t do anything wrong.
I still go back to Galatians 5 on this. We should be using our freedom to show love to one another, not “cancel” each other nor ignore someone’s plea to re-evaluate concerning behavior. We have to find a way to stop living in the extremes and reacting from that place as well. Dehumanizing one another isn’t going to get us anywhere.
Whichever side of these hot topics you land on… I love ya. I really do. If you choose to be a part of my circle of friends, then I value you. I understand that our previous experiences play a big role in creating our opinions and sometimes we can’t agree on things. It doesn’t mean we have to be enemies. People are complicated, huh? I think we all just need more FOREST BATHING. ;-)
Ok.. what do ya’ll think? I know you have thoughts!
Love ya’ll… mean it… M
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