Once I saw his picture I knew who Paul Williams was but it was his younger self that I recognized. You may know him as the famous singer and songwriter that he is - some of his iconic work includes We've Only Just Begun and Rainy Days and Mondays sung by The Carpenters, and Rainbow Connections that Kermit The Frog sang. I suppose though you would have to be of a certain age to know some of his music.
The 74-year-old Paul was chatting with Oprah Winfrey on Super Soul Sunday recently. He and Tracey Jackson co-authored the book "Gratitude and Trust: Six Affirmations That Will Change Your Life." It's a book about recovery but it's not just for recovering addicts. I have not read the book and can offer no insight or opinion of its content or value. However, there were aspects of the interview and insights from Paul's life journey that struck home for me.
In the 1970s Paul Williams was at the height of his career. It was also the time when his drug and alcohol abuse was on the rise and overtaking his life. He says that he lost the next decade of his life and spent the 80s hiding in his room, drinking and using drugs, before he finally hit rock bottom and got help. Yet despite the fog he was able to produce brilliant lyrics, spiritual lyrics, and lyrics that can still touch you deeply. How is that possible?
"I don't know how to do this, but something inside me does." ~ Paul Williams and Tracey Jackson
I wonder if the words and music were always in him, just as they are in you, but his fear and insecurities stopped them from coming out. Maybe the drugs and alcohol stripped away those inhibitions allowing his genius to come through? But the price – huge! We all suffer the same fears and insecurities of those who are famous, infamous, talented, and extra-ordinary. The question then is how do you access that part of you, that ‘something that knows how’ without the mind numbing drugs?
Meditation, I think, is a good starting point. Through the practice your mind is cleared and your sense of awareness becomes highly sharpened. At the same time a sense of peace envelopes your being and joy bubbles up. Many meditation practices focus on your breath. And that is an easy practice to carry with you through the day. Coming back to your breath in times of stress will bring you back to balance and clarity. Awareness of your breath in times of boredom or movement does the same and the more you practice the easier it becomes.
Sound boring? Hate the thought of practice? Don’t want to add another thing to do in your life? I don’t blame you. I have certainly felt that way at different times. But letting go of fear and allowing yourself to be open to that ‘something greater’ will bring positive and long-lasting change. And without the brain fog or losing decades of your life.
You may not know how to do something, including how to meditate, but something in you does. And that something is just waiting on you to open the door. Then the music, or painting, or book, or garden in you will find its way into the world.
Hold that thought!