The Blog
Slouching toward understanding

Situational Awareness

It's important to look around.

Though most of grade school I was almost always the tallest kid in my class. That came with a certain responsibility to be aware of what was going on around me so that I wouldn't hurt kids smaller than me. I grew up with almost a sixth sense of what was happening in my vicinity. That manifested itself in different ways. To this day I never walk through a public doorway without checking to see if there is someone behind me I can hold the door for and when I'm in a public space like a theatre or grocery store I am always careful to not block access for people wishing to rush down an aisle ahead of me or race to the produce section with their cart.

Over the years that sense has served me well. When I was writing poetry - long before I started songwriting - it allowed me to focus on what was going on with the people around me and to carefully observe the environment I was passing through at any one moment. As a photographer it gave me a unique sense of what was important in a scene and what I wanted someone to focus on when they viewed the image. For a while I was writing and producing commercials for radio and TV. Looking past the noise and the clutter and the client distraction led to finding the right elements to share with the listening and viewing public.

As a songwriter - indeed, as a writer in any medium - it is important to be able to observe, to see past the obvious, to dig just a little deeper to get at the truth of the matter. Whether that's done in the context of a serious, emotional song like this one or as a way to poke fun at a particular genre or situation, the skill required is the same. Being aware tends to be the difference between nailing it or missing the target.

Now, that skill, developed long, long ago, comes into play almost every day as I navigate the streams of news reports that fill the airwaves, the cable channels and the Internet. Being aware that it's important to sift through the dross that surrounds us and find that element that rings true is not just an important skill, it could be the difference between how our future looks and how we all manage to navigate the rift that has been fostered and deepened in recent years.

In my newest song, It's Time, I make the plea that we get past that which tears us apart. One of the tools we can use to do that is to be aware of what is going on around us, and that includes what is going on with the folks who travel this path with us.

Situational awareness: It's not just for writers.
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