On Tuesday, May 20th, Ray Manzarek, keyboardist and founding member of The Doors, passed away. Right before I learned of Ray’s passing I was taking the 4:30 pm class. Set up behind me was a gentleman who is fairly new to the practice but who I often seem to end up taking class with and practicing either next to him or in his general neighborhood.
During this particular class, he seemed to be doing pretty good for a newbie but was still having some struggles. However, he didn’t give up. I watched him out of the corner of my eye. He hung in there. He kept at it. He clearly gave it everything he had. At some point in the floor series I thought, I love this guy. Because honestly, he is very inspiring. And I bet he doesn’t even have a clue how much he inspires me with his perserverance. I wanted to tell him after class, but wasn’t able to connect with him. I will though. Don’t worry.
Watching this guy do his class, and realizing how inspiring he was, made me understand that we never know how we are helping people, how we push them, or what we teach them or inspire them to do. Anyone can be looking at us at anytime. We have the opportunity to make an impact without even trying – just by living our lives thoughtfully and as mindfully as possible is all it takes.
Leaving class, I checked my phone and saw that Ray had passed away. I was a huge Doors fan as a child. My brother and I stole my father’s copy of L.A. Woman (vinyl of course, and yes, I still have it) and played it all the time. By the time I was a teenager, and a musician myself, I knew their catalogue inside and out, and I read everything about them. I learned a lot about musicianship and life from reading about the band and listening to their music.
So when Ray died I thought how meaningful his life had been. He had inspired me and countless others in so many ways (all those guys have), and it isn’t possible for him to know the depths of his inspiration. I thought it was interesting that I had just been thinking about the concept of inspiration, how we inspire one another, only moments before in class. But, of course, you don’t have to be famous to inspire people and, like Ray, we all inspire each other without even knowing or fully understanding it every single day.
As I was driving, and thinking all this, I told Ray I could really use a good Doors song right about then. I was sitting at a red light, and I asked him to send me a song he thought I should hear. I took out my phone, hit shuffle, and plugged it in. The first song I got – and I realize this is getting strange – was Soul Kitchen. The second was The Changeling. Listen to them, and think about the lyrics in the context of Ray’s death and my request for a song and see if you don’t find it all a bit overwhelming. I know I did.
All that aside, I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge Ray’s passing and to share the inspiration I received both from him and from everyone around me everyday.
Every day, we inspire each other.