So, perhaps we should talk about sheep.
As the flock approaches the proverbial cliff, one considers that all sheep are possibly not the same. The safest position to defend, in a disdainfully self-righteous voice, is that all sheep will go over the cliff as a homogeneous blob of stupid wool. As this is the safest point of view, I challenge the viewer to defend their normality of view, as they go over the moral cliff, in their fiercest expression of collective individualism.
As the cliff draws closer, some sheep within the flock somehow compute, of their own warped sense of individuality, that bad things happen to sheep who fall over cliffs, and try to change course at the last minute, perhaps swept by the over into the void anyway, too late. Some may survive by running out to the side, screaming at their fellows to stop, “You foo-oooo-ools,” eventually finding themselves lonely without the flock, but alive and wiser. Now, to survive the wolves.
The lead sheep, who, for all we know, are not leading, but just running as fast as possible for fear of being trampled by the second rank, are the first to sense their imminent doom. As the horizon tilts vertical, they plunge, in horror, for they see themselves as honorable and loyal sheep. Going over cliffs is what good sheep do. Alas.
And now we come to the unique and rarefied strain of sheep who act completely wrong, they see the cliff, and the sky, and the other side’s cliffs vastly distant. Inexplicably, they lower their heads, swell their shoulders, and lunge fanatically into the air, only to find that they have grown wings, and soar majestically out into space.
It is these, the astrosheep, who have found a second chance, to find another flock, to warn them about the cliffs and how they must be avoided — of course, only to be ridiculed, “Silly sheep, we have no minds of our own, we just follow the flock whatever it does. And who told you you could fly?”
Now, being of independent mind and some courage, the gifted ones will position themselves at the lead, so as to be between the flock and the cliff. Confident in their abilities, they will wait until the last minute, and call out to their comrades, “Follow me, do as I do, run right off the cliff and spread your wings, it’s your only chance!”
Needless to say, it should be clear by now that there are, in fact, differences between some sheep and others, and how devastated and confused our flying sheep end up after watching their followers go off the cliff with that quizzical expression they have a second before vanishing downwards. Then looking over to see that they have company in the sky. You’re not many, but you’re not alone.
As an artist, I’ve been hardened by the fact that some people just have no soul when it comes to music. They are great at being the concert-goer and backstage partier, but to me it’s always been painful to try to play in front of people who just can’t see. Especially my parents. Secondly, as children, we may subconsciously make decisions concerning our studies and career that do not blossom into practical job skills and useful economic units. Sometimes, especially in the arts, it takes a lifetime to put the puzzle together as to who we are and what we were born to do. It takes a lifetime to acquire the experience, joy, and pain, to craft a bit of living dream that invites the lost souls in to have a cup and nourish their tired psyches. To those of my colleagues that saw this way ahead of me, I salute you, and may I have the courage to fly off the cliff, when the time comes.
As always, whenever I have some epic moment of realization, or as my schoolmates said, a penetrating glimpse into the obvious, I will soon stumble across the words of someone with a deeper understanding and life experience who says it better.
With unreserved admiration and humility, I give you Sir Patrick Stewart.