I went to see Harry Chapin with my Mom. I couldn’t have been more than 13 or 14. My Dad was supposed to take her, but things were strained between them at that time, so Mom invited me. I didn’t really want to go (not a big Chapin fan at that time) but she wouldn’t go alone so …
I remember not being to impressed by the music. I think I knew ‘Cat’s Cradle’ and ‘Taxi’, but I was stunned by how much energy the man could create without loud guitars or pyrotechnics. He basically told a bunch of stories and made people feel good and bad at the same time. He railed against world hunger and our seeming inability to do anything to feed the needy. He moved people. One of his in between musings sticks with me even today;
There are two kinds of tired: there’s good tired and bad tired. The funny thing is, with ‘bad tired’ you can have ‘won’ all day. But you won other people’s battles, filled other people’s agendas, worked on other people’s dreams. There was little to no ‘you’ in it, and when you go to bed you toss and turn – can’t get settled.
Now ‘good tired’ can be a day when you ‘lost’ all day – but it doesn’t matter because you fought the good fight. You fought your battles, chased your dreams, lived your life and used your gifts to the best of your ability. You follow the path your creator made you specifically for. You can fall back in your bed and say “Take me away”. I’ve done what I do for all of my life. I would have loved to be more successful, but I did what I was made to do and I sleep the sleep of the just.
When you come to face death – that black, impenetrable wall of sleep – will you sleep with peace, without fear?
Just a few years later I read in the paper that Chapin had died at the age of 38. He had used his gifts and fought his battles against world hunger until his end.
Harry gave me a gift that night, one I didn’t recognize until many years later.
I don’t always win. But I sleep well.