My Exhaustion and the Fulghum Pharmacy

"You look tired Scott. I've never even seen you look like tired, much less THIS tired! Everything okay?"

Joel was the third person to say that to me in as many days. He was right. I was beat down dog tired and struggling to keep up.

I thought I was doing a better job of hiding it. I thought my game face was better than that. After all, I make my living putting on "the game face." I am good at the game face, heck, I am MISTER GAME FACE!

Well, at least I thought I was.

Listen, I lived a blessed life and I am grateful for every moment of it. And I understand that I am in a world of my own making and that I am free to change it at any time.

But knowing all of this doesn't make me feel any better. My problem wasn't what I knew, it was what I was feeling... Overworked, overwhelmed, and overlooked.

I am fully aware that as we approach the end of September that I am in good company. It's likely that many of you share these emotions. You know what you do is important, but you don't FEEL that way. Knowing is not always feeling.

When I am at the bottom, when I am beat down, when I need help, I have a drug of choice that I turn to... Robert Fulghum. Yes, the author of All I Really I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. I have all of his books, have read them multiple times, and have even had the pleasure of seeing him speak live.

The effect he has on me is as inexplicable as it is immediate. His writing speaks to me. He makes me think, and perhaps more importantly, makes me feel. He is my spiritual sherpa, surrogate grandfather, and kindred spirit.

In desperate need of a pick me up, I slumped up to my office in a sullen mood, grabbed one of his books and started to read. Almost instantly I felt better. Panacea or placebo? I don't care! I FELT better.

Wanting more of this drug (and who wouldn't?), I went to his website in hopes of finding a new book to read or a new morsel of goodness to chew upon and there it was... Right there on the front page. It was like he was waiting for me to arrive and had written me a personal note.

Why do I continue writing? To be useful.

Often, without realizing it, we fill important places in each other's lives. It's that way with the guy at the corner grocery, the mechanic at the local garage, the family doctor, teachers, coworkers, and neighbors. Good people who are always "there," who can be relied upon in small, ordinary ways. People who, by example, teach us, bless us, encourage us, support us, uplift us in the daily-ness of life.

I want to be one of those.

You may be one of those, yourself. There are those who depend on you, watch you, learn from you, are inspired by you, and count on you being in their world. You may never have proof of your importance to them, but you are more important than you may think. There are those who couldn't do without you. The rub is that you don't always know who. We seldom make this mutual influence clear to each other. But being aware of the possibility that you are useful in this world is the doorway into assuring that will come to be true.

My way is to keep writing and sharing that. What's yours?

-Robert Lee Fulghum

My way is to serve music education and the people who call it their profession.

I would like to believe that out there, in a classroom somewhere, there is someone, young or old, who depends on me, learns from me, is inspired by me, and counts on me. I may not always KNOW it, but I always FEEL it. I am useful because I have you!

Thank you, Robert, for reminding me of that.