Keeping An Eye Out


When I was a young parent, my children would go outside to play with the other neighbor children.  Although we might be inside, we would always be aware of where our children were, what they were doing, and with whom they were playing.  As they grew up, we watched them become more curious, more adventuresome, more outgoing, and even more timid in some cases.  They were forming their personalities into the people they would become as adults.  As a more mature adult, I find myself continuing to do the same thing, only with new eyes.

I started my venture into music in February 1969.  At this point, I’m an old hand in the industries of music, theater, and business.  Now, I am beginning to see the up-and-comers starting to develop.  Perhaps because I’ve crossed the 40-year mark, I am not so focused on my own success, but rather prepared to lend a hand, if invited, to those who will take my place when I retire, after creating their own place with their work.  It’s not just in music, though.  It’s also in the arena of personal growth.

The beginning of my new attention began almost imperceptibly.  Glimpses of talent, tenacity, intelligence, and creativity caught my peripheral vision.  These young upstarts started showing some real gifts.  At first, I smiled paternally at the young whippersnappers as they started showing their mettle.  Slowly, my focus changed.  I’m now taking an interest as a mentor as they become my peers, working with great alacrity in my industry.  Their sense of innovation, fearlessness, and indefatigability become a constant source of amazement.

Was I like this as a younger actor, musician, singer, conductor?  Perhaps.  I certainly did not see myself in the same way as I perceive these vital young people.   I do recall, though, those who took the time to guide me through my growth.  It appears it’s my turn to offer that support as our youthful invigorati, if you will allow me a new word, start building their curriculum vitae.  The lines in my face are like directional arrows pointing toward extended experience to which some of these newer adults gravitate.   It’s like that for everyone I suspect.

James in 1976 and 2011

So, in the same way as I did for the young ones in the neighborhood 35 years ago, I again am keeping an eye out in case I am needed by a budding musician, a neophyte writer, or simply someone who is searching for his or her identity.    I still turn to my elders for their wisdom because I’m not done yet.   I still need guidance sometimes; only now, I live on both sides of that line.  As I contemplate this topic, I believe I care for our developing success stories because once upon a time, someone else helped me achieve mine.

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