I guess the concept of groove is kind of instinctual. It’s not something you can force. In the concept of music, there are certain instruments where you need to be able to feel this sense of groove, and it’s not rigid or structured. It’s not something you can really see; it’s a feeling. You don’t really know if you’re doing it until you’re doing it; and then once you have it, you’ve captured it.
If you take that concept away from music, you could apply that to other things, like any profession. You have to find that profession or thing that drives you that you can groove with. I think maybe when you groove with your passion or your job or whatever you do to find satisfaction in life, then that’s when you get happiness.
I can think of so many different people that do things in their life that they don’t really care about. It doesn’t give them any joy. They’re not miserable, but to me, they’re not living. It’s just this routine, this sequence of events, which never ends and doesn’t have any real purpose behind it. That is my nightmare: living a life that’s just filling time for no reason. Especially living in the States, being okay with living without certain things is a really hard concept for people to understand. There is a lot of structure and a lot of ways people can get involved in a structure for their future, where they feel like their future is set and they don’t have to worry about it. But for me, that’s boring.
I love music, so I played music for a long time. I never made a hit song. I never made a lot of money. But, I just loved doing it, so I couldn’t imagine not doing it. My new passion is photography. It’s fulfilling in a different way. It’s not that you’re exactly creating something, but you’re capturing something that’s there and you’re trying to preserve a moment that otherwise never would have been seen or appreciated by anybody. I’m totally grooving with that. It feels really cool when someone else loves a picture that I’ve taken. It’s like it’s own reward.
I’ve worked for a long time in coffee, and it hasn’t been for the money. It’s just been for the love of the job. I love coffee. I understand the coffee world and get a lot of satisfaction from it. My friend and I started a company called Sound Coffee and we have been trying to find social initiatives, or where we can help out in coffee growing communities. Our intention was to work with coffee, but also to help make a difference in some of these poorer communities that produce really good coffee.
Last year, we raised money for a farmer in El Salvador to buy water filters for farmers that live on her farm. This year, we are doing a documentary about a coffee growing region in Costa Rica. While we were there, we learned that the house of one of the migrant helpers blew over in Panama. He has like a ramshackle rickety house for 15 people. We asked how we could help and coordinated with him and were able to raise money to go and build a solid house for him.
We haven’t gotten a whole lot of negative feedback, but one of the things I’ve encountered is: ‘Why are you doing this?’ We were talking to someone who asked why we picked this family or if we thought we were going to solve the problem of poverty with just this one person. I think we’re coming from the perspective that we were confronted with an immediate need and it was kind of our duty to do something regardless of the overarching problem of poverty. You can only do the things you’re confronted with and no more. It’s not your responsibility to change the world; it’s just your responsibility to do the things that you know you can do.
There was this one guy, Jose, who asked us to buy him a guitar before we left. As a musician, I can’t turn down the request of another person to want to play an instrument. Music could totally change that guy’s life.
I met this lady in Costa Rica and she’s 60 years old and just stopped working as an engineer. She inherited this huge land from her family and decided to start planting coffee on it. No one is really helping her and it’s really hard for her, but she’s starting this new life at 60. She’s taking chances at 60. She’s still alive and taking risks at her age. You always have the chance to do something new, no matter how old you are or where you are in life. That was really inspiring: to be in a place where a lot of people are only concerned about their security, and to give that up and pursue things that she’s really passionate about.
I guess everyone wants to feel secure. But to me, it doesn’t feel alive. The comfort and security you get from pursuing certain career paths are comfortable, but you lose something, too. You lose the sense of vibrancy and that every day is new and all that cliché stuff. But, it’s true. When you put yourself out there and if you can sacrifice a little of that security or need to be comfortable, then you have more of real life experiences.