The Music Industry.
The Space Industry.
While we’re at it, why don’t we have The Law Enforcement Industry? The Therapy Industry? The Literature Industry?
I’m sure it won’t be long…
I’m a musician. In my formative years, music was not an “Industry.” Or a Business. It was a profession, an art form, a career path to be proud of. I trained for it with dedication and joy, because nothing but the best would do.
I never expected to be rich or particularly famous. I believed that music enriched lives. It expressed the things that words could not. It was an essential element of our rich and diverse culture. It was an expression of our individual and collective soul.
I still believe those things.
I never expected fashion, fitness, look, or image to be anything but personal choices. Fun. The icing on the cake. But it isn’t like that anymore.
The noble profession of music has given way to The Music Industry. Now, the studious, the plain, the frumpish, the overweight, the geeky, the unfashionable, the ageing are all consigned to the scrap heap. The Music Industry worships at the altar of wealth, glamour, and superficiality.
Those pondering expressions of the soul? Who cares.
The other day, I turned on my television to be greeted by the latest happenings in The Space Industry. WTF??
I was a schoolgirl in 1969, when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. I remember the whole school rushing to the assembly hall to watch the great event on one tiny television, mounted on the wall so we could see it. The words of Commander Neil Armstrong, as he became the first man ever to walk on the moon, were legendary. Immortal. The whole world was abuzz with them:
“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
The excitement was palpable. It was felt around the world.
Just think about those words for a minute.
How would Neil Armstrong feel if he realised that his “giant leap” turned out to be just the beginning of the mundane entity now known as The Space Industry? His glorious dream of wonder, discovery, and exploration reduced to a mere vehicle for making the rich richer.
Back in 1969, space travel was contemplated with bated breath. It was the pursuit of knowledge, a journey into the great unknown. One of the great mysteries of science and the universe. Now, thanks to Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, you can buy a ticket to space just as we once bought a train ticket.
Is this progress?
I don’t think so. In our insatiable thirst for wealth, and our arrogant belief that we are the masters of the universe, we are losing sight of what actually matters. Our humanitarian values, our capacity for perceiving the wondrous, the miraculous, the truly awesome, is diminished. Our lives are the poorer for it and our souls are withering from neglect.
Take that word—awesome. Once upon a time, it was used to describe something that really did fill us with awe. Something that was greater than us, that filled us with worshipful humility. Now, we use it to describe the latest flavour of Ben and Jerry’s.
Even our language is being downgraded to match our ever-shrinking horizons. How much farther can this trend take us?
Will churches become store fronts for The God Industry?
Will funeral homes become shop windows for The Death Industry?
Will weddings become manifestations of The Love Industry?
Okay, so maybe I’m being a bit silly. But maybe I’m not. As a society, we seem to be on a mission to destroy everything that cannot be counted and to reduce our world to the lowest common denominator. We are elevating the commonplace and celebrating mediocrity.
Of course, we don’t all do this. There is a growing group of people who think and feel as I do. Who want to experience the wonder in the everyday expressions of nature. Who want to contemplate our universe with awed respect. Who appreciate things for their intrinsic value, rather than figuring out what we can make from them.
As a society, though, we seem to be fulfilling the old cliché: we are becoming a species who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Every time I hear someone talk about The Music Industry or The Space Industry, a little bit of me dies. This is not the world I signed up for.
My personal mission? To restore a little bit of magic to my world every day. To glory in the ordinary, everyday miracles that are so often overlooked. This, surely, is the only way to live our lives to the fullest, and to become the most that we can be.
And, as a musician and a writer who is not a part of any f*cking “Industry,” I will continue to rant.