One Year of Gratitude — Day 58

Photo by Alvan Nee on Unsplash. Thank you, Alvan!

Last night I got a text from my friend, Ken. He was planning to head out to a jazz jam in West Hartford. I am happy he asked me to come along. The band hosting the jam was burning up the stage. It was some of the best live music I have heard in a long time. Hartford has an excellent jazz scene. It may be one of the strongest in the country. Thank you, Ken!

A little about Ken…

Ken and I met at a job several years ago. The owner of the company introduced us to one another as jazz enthusiasts. Ken, meet Josh. He likes Jazz. Josh, meet Ken. He digs Jazz, too. I have always enjoyed Jazz. But, my knowledge of the genre is somewhat superficial. I learned how little I knew after meeting Ken. The man is a walking encyclopedia of jazz history. He is passionate about the music. He is an activist, working to keep the movement alive. He plays no instruments but is doing more for the genre than most musicians. He runs a weekly podcast called In the Groove, Jazz and Beyond. He attends lots of local performances. He writes articles for the Hartford Jazz Society. He knows and cares for the local musicians. He goes out and supports them. He has been doing this for a very long time.

Back to last night…

What I saw last night was art. Before I send the wrong message, let me clarify something. I do not think all Jazz is art. I do not think one style of music better than another. Within each genre we can find a separation of true artists from their cohorts. OK, moving on. Experiencing great art is not a passive endeavor. We have to be willing to meet these artists in the middle to receive the benefit of their work. Take literature, for example. The most excellent literature is not always easy to read. It seldom is, in fact. It pushes us outside of our comfort zone. Great music is the same in this regard. Same with dance. Same with theatre. Same with graphic arts. It all exposes us to new things and ideas. It forces us to think in a different way than usual. That can make us uncomfortable. That is what I mean by meeting them half way. We have to work through the discomfort of a new perspective. The benefit of great art lies beyond the discomfort.

What is the benefit of great art? A broader understanding of the human spirit may be one benefit. Empathy, perhaps? Maybe the time spent understanding art enhances our ability to work through life challenges. The truth is, I do not know all the benefits. I suspect it is different for everyone. That is the beauty of it.

The world needs more people like Ken. I do not mean more jazz enthusiasts. I mean folks who are willing to scratch beyond the surface of the arts in general. There is so much to discover. New artists are sprouting up daily. I am not just speaking about musicians. Artists of all types are creating things that give us reason to think. They give us reason to wonder. They remind us of reasons to love. They provide us reasons to feel strongly about something. They share things that inspire.

So, today I am thankful for people like Ken. Ken gives back to those artists who feed his soul. He is the epitome of gratitude. I am proud to call him a friend. I am thankful for all the artists of the world who continue to inspire us in different ways. I am grateful for the photographers who share their meaningful imagery that I use in these articles, every day.

And that is your gratitude for today.