We Are All Disabled - Part 10


When I Grow Up...


I watched the Juno Awards and in the closeness of my basement suite felt the walls close in. 

To see and to hear that much talent on one stage and to know in someway, I'm competing for a piece of that audience is humbling. And then after a long night of thinking too much, being humbled turns into being challenged. So it is, I pick up my guitar, I practice, I compose and I practice again, knowing there is no other way to survive. 

Looking back at my life, being reflective is the best way I know to move forward. It's not about indulgence or obsession, I can't afford to do that. Instead I think about the people whose talent, support and love have provided me direction. That's where the rest of my life begins - being grateful to and learning from the people who have shared part of themselves with me. 

Today those memories take me to Jim Byrnes. A brilliant performer, an inspired writer, an actor and a man who has spent most o f his life in the services of others. I've played with Jim but never felt I was his equal. Our music and our styles are different but that isn't it, instead I've just never been able to feel as deeply as he does, in words anyway - on the guitar maybe, but never in words. 

The Jim Byrnes most people know has won Juno Awards, performs his music around the world and is a big time movie and television actor. The Jim Byrnes I know is all those things but he is also a man who lost his legs helping someone change a tire on the side of the road when he was hit by another car, speeding down a dark highway. I think that moment changed the course of Jim's life. There is a humility around Jim as he constantly lends his talent to people and ideas that make the world a better place. There is an honesty and an intensity to him that is unmatched and playing close to him only magnifies those feelings. 

One night in China a few years ago while shooting Heart Of A Dragon, I played with Jim in a village built into the base of the Great Wall. Jim sang songs, rich in a tradition that defined his life- honest, powerful and loyal to the bluesmen that have gone before. 

I have thought about that night at the Great Wall many times and about the grace and determination he carries himself with. Our music and talent may be different but our hearts are the same and when I grow up ... I want to be just like Mr. Byrnes. 


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