Inspiration is a funny thing. It strikes sometimes when you’re least expecting it.
Ask any creative person you know – a writer, a musician, an artist – and I’m sure each one will tell you that an idea for a story or a song or a painting came to them in an unexpected or unique way. Maybe an old idea fed a new one. Or perhaps they were just struck by a thought from out of the blue.
Take Fabio Zaffagnini, for example.
Don’t know that name? Well, he’s the Italian man who so badly wanted to have the Foo Fighters play a show in his town of Cesena that he created an amazing musical plea for the band.
Zaffagnini found his inspiration from actor Jack Black, in an interview that was part of the bonus features included in the DVD of Black’s 2003 film School of Rock. Zaffagnini says “On the DVD…he (Black) says if you really want something, you have to ask – and it works better if there are a thousand people screaming behind you.”
Zaffagnini took Black’s advice to heart. He took a year to organize 1000 musicians to perform Foo classic “Learn to Fly” and presented the performance, and the invitation, to the band by video. The video went viral, of course, and the band was so moved that Dave Grohl responded (in Italian!) to accept the invitation. You can watch this delightful musical tribute here.
Now, I’ve never considered myself a creative person. I’m not artistic. I can’t manage more than stick figures. Really bad stick figures. I’ve never been musically inclined, save for a few years of violin lessons in elementary school. And as I’ve said more than once, I don’t think of myself as a writer. I mean, come on! This? This is just a blog!
Bursts of inspiration are still foreign to me. But over the past few years I’ve learned to pay attention and look for those bursts.
My Foo Fighters journey has taught me that.
I will never know why it ended up being this band, this music, which would stir something in my soul. But there was an immediate kinship. I don’t have words for it. I’ve struggled to find them for more than four years now. But it’s really not important that I be able to describe it. I accepted it long ago, at an early point in this journey. I was meant to find this band, and they were meant to teach me something. I bet Fabio Zaffagnini would understand.
And the lesson is ongoing. But here’s what I know so far.
Foo Fighters music found me at a low point, pulled me up out of a hole, dusted me off, and nudged me on my way. I wasn’t sure where the path would lead me, but I knew I had to follow it. And for maybe the first time in my life, I kept walking forward, completely uncertain, and completely unafraid.
At first, it was all about finding a way to go to work for the band. Having no musical skill, I determined I’d need another avenue. As I have said on many occasions, everybody needs a Jewish Mother. I could do that for them. After all, I do it for everyone else. It’s the job I’ve spent my whole life training for. To serve that role for the band that had saved my life, well, that would be my dream job!
But while I figured out how to make that dream job happen, I went back to school. You know, just as a back-up plan. Surely grad school could teach me something. And it did.
The lessons were profound.
About a year into my school experience, I learned about a troubling social issue known as food insecurity. It affects roughly 20% of America’s children, leaving them wondering where their next meal will come from. And although children are affected by food insecurity more than other populations, they are not the only victims. Elderly Americans and veterans are also affected.
Here we are in the United States of America, the richest, most resourceful, most advanced nation in the world. And we can’t feed all of our citizens.
I read the statistics. And I found them disheartening.
One child in five experiences food insecurity every day. Every single day. Then there are the elderly. Hunger assistance organization Feeding America reports that 17% of the clients they serve are over 60 years of age, and the elderly population in this country is growing. Finally, some 60,000 U.S. military veterans are currently receiving SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, benefits that are very likely going to be cut at the end of 2015.
Here are some questions for you. How does the greatest nation in the world permit its most vulnerable to go hungry? Is this how we want to treat our children? Our oldest and wisest? Is this the thanks we show the veterans who’ve given so selflessly to ensure our freedom?
BOOM! There it was, there was my purpose. I knew where my journey was taking me. This was the work I had to do. This was where my Foo-guided path was leading.
It was about more than just me hanging with the band and taking care of them. There were many more people to feed. Millions of them.
So I’ve come up with a plan. I’ve known for a while what this plan would look like. I just didn’t know how to execute it, and I wrestled with it almost every day. How could I bring it to fruition? A recent sleepless night brought me some clarity. My vision, just like the journey that inspired it, was borne of music. A Foo Fighters song (you’re shocked, aren’t you?) called Congregation.
“And you need blind faith, and no false hope. Open your eyes, open your eyes. Step into the light!”
I had heard those words at least a hundred times before. But something finally clicked. I had to stop worrying about how to execute my plan. I needed to pull a Nike and just do it. Just put it out there and see where it could go. I needed to rely on blind faith. It was time for me to step into the light.
There are plenty of organizations in the U.S. that address hunger issues. But I have a unique idea for a different kind of hunger-fighting organization, one that unites musicians and their fans for the purpose of ending hunger in America.
I am going forward with the creation of a non-profit organization that’s going to use music to raise money and awareness to address the issue. This organization will also promote advocacy, and encourage music lovers to take up this cause and task our elected representatives to do more to fix the problem.
My organization has a name. Soon it will have a website. In the weeks to come, there will be more blogs, and a YouTube presence, and a KickStarter campaign.
Dear readers, you have honored me with your time over the years, and allowed me to share my Foo passion with you along the way. So it’s with deep gratitude and great humility that I ask this of you now.
I am only one person. I see this mission of mine as an epic battle, and it’s one I can’t fight alone. I need your help. So, I’m going to ask you to subscribe to this blog, if you haven’t already, and to share it with anyone you know who you think will be willing to help, and to ask them to subscribe as well. Share it now! Help me put it out there. Lend your voice.
Because very soon, I’m going to ask the Foo Fighters to join me in this mission. And I’m going to need at least a thousand screaming voices behind me when I do.