I’ve had the privilege of editing two books for John Densmore, the implacable drummer for the Doors who cares deeply about the planet and the people in it. The first book was called “The Doors Unhinged” about John’s efforts to maintain the dignity of the music they all made together, as Jim Morrison wanted. Then, last Thursday night, I witnessed John and his friends reaching out to maintain the dignity of their fellow human beings
I was John’s guest at a concert fund raiser called “Homeward Bound.” PATH (People Assisting the Homeless) was the charity behind this effort, as they work tirelessly to provide support services and find shelter for the massive amount of homeless people all over the country. It was a rare occasion as John and his former band mate, Robby Kreiger, reunited to play music for their cause. Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics, and Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic also appeared and I could hardly believe my luck to be there. These iconic musicians were using their celebrity to help their fellow human beings who were down on their luck. In this era of Selfies and rampant political Narcissism, it was a joy to witness the selflessness and dedication of people who cared about others and were willing to bring the crisis of homelessness to everyone’s attention
I felt anticipation when the two remaining “Doors” stood on stage to do what they had spent their entire lives doing – make beautiful music. But I wasn’t prepared for the way I choked up when I heard the familiar refrains that were part of the backdrop of my life when I was growing up. I was moved by the determination of these artists to support people who didn’t have what they had. At this stage in their lives, they could take it easy, enjoy their cars, their homes, eating out at fancy restaurants and living a consumer lifestyle. But they chose something different. They chose to reach out and wake us all up to the pain and suffering of people we don’t know, people who could be us, people we would rather not be reminded of as we relax in our beds and loll on our couches with the heat turned up and a refrigerator filled with food
As the baby boomers age, many of us are looking for meaning and purpose in our lives. We want to leave this earth a little bit better than when we arrived, but it’s easy to feel like the challenges and crises are so huge, what good can do one small person do in a world of hurt? I contemplated that on Thursday night. What would a measly donation do to change the climate of a world that seems to be reeling out of control? I thought a lot about it and it and I decided that anything I can do, any act of kindness and giving is useful. If we all gave fifty dollars to a cause that we care about, it would change the world because there are so many of us here. I made my donation when I got home and I felt like I mattered when I dropped off to sleep.
I don’t want to sound like a bleeding heart, but I do want to join the growing number of people who look beyond the comfort of our lives and do what we can to give a little help to people who are suffering in ways we can’t even imagine. My donation won’t change my life. The truth is that I won’t even feel it. But it can change someone else’s life if we all band together and refuse to accept the status quo. We can do it loudly by shouting from the rooftops and making music, or we can do it quietly with a donation and a simple conversation. Or by writing a blog. I like to ask myself, What have I done lately to reach out of my comfort zone and do something, anything, that will impact someone else’s life for the better?