IT'S A GOLDEN STATE by Brandon Schott
"Maybe life is curious to see what you would do With the gift of being left alive"
-Marc Cohn, Live Out the String
These days I find myself returning over and over again to the idea of Spirit. Prior to the winter of 2007, whatever elusive experience I had with Spirit was mostly found in music - in albums or songs so beautiful that an intangible divinity seemed to roll along in their rhythm, as if they couldn't possibly have been written or constructed by human beings (see Radiohead's The Tourist). I recognized it in lyrics that speak so clearly to our shared human journey that they seem to be born from beyond this world, created for us in order to affirm the greater picture (see Stevie Wonder's Love's in Need of Love Today) - reminders that stand to say as long as we can all sing along, we are not alone.
On November 28, 2007, I was diagnosed with a rare, but very treatable stage three germ-cell cancer. The following six months proved to me without a doubt that such a clarity of Spirit could indeed be a very tangible and active presence in my life.
I've been blessed with an amazing family and a tremendous group of friends, and for that I've always been thankful. However, the most unexpected gift appeared when people who were complete strangers prior to my diagnosis suddenly became set into the deep groove of my life - confidently fighting, loving, praying, and comforting me right along with my family and friends. There were the doctors that diagnosed and guided me, the nurses that administered my chemo and supported me through the sometimes exhausting daily routines, and the gracious friends from our church who brought home-cooked meals twice a week. Then there were the friends of family, or friends of friends (or friends of friends of family) that had their churches saying prayers for us in their prayer circles. And while I still haven't had the honor of meeting many of these people, for their gifts of love and unity and peace I am eternally grateful.
Of course, I can't fail to mention the obvious role that music played in my recovery. Throughout my life, music has always been a source of comfort, from my days as a misunderstood teen to my more recent years in search for a place in this world. I don't think one can navigate as an artist through this business without the optimism that music can reach people, and when it does reach the listener it comes with an offering of humanity. Through the creation of that music also comes a greater understanding of self for the writer. During this period, I wrote songs that seemed to pour out of the air (I barely remember writing them). These songs were given to me from some other plane to help me understand and cope with all the new energy that swirled around me.
Regardless of religious position, I believe that we are all bound together as human beings - as life on this planet, each responsible for one another in our own way. It is that common bond that I've come to define as 'Godly' - or 'God'. In the last year, I witnessed this bond in action, all happening right before me and within me - and it was beautifully overwhelming. All along I felt like this gift was only mine to borrow for a time, that when the time came and I had my chance I would repay this energy somehow.
As of this writing, I've been cancer-free for six months - two PET scans clear and going strong. In the wake of all this, I started up Artists for Healing as a musical outreach program for artists to pull together to celebrate and champion causes close to their hearts, to apply music and art toward an active spiritual & musical therapy and to provide a healing presence in our world. With Artists for Healing, I am redirecting how I choose to have my own story, music and artistry represented in this wide world of ours - and in less than a month I have already enlisted a handful of like-minded artists. It has begun.
My greatest hope is that the thread of love and unity I've witnessed of late can universally shine through our music, actions and efforts. May it now be reborn as Spirit in action.
"Keep your light in tune And in this journey that we travel through You will find the warmth you send returned to you..."
-Brandon Schott, Turning Toward the Sun