"Honey, thou dost protest too much, methinks," says my wife frequently. Oh, she's not always so Shakespearean about it, but she does say essentially that.
Denial is a funny thing. Refusing to accept the truth about your own self often leads to projecting your loathing upon others. Plus, it's just hard to love others if you don't love yourself, and it's tough to love yourself when you hate things about yourself.
I recently sat down with my friend Jimmy Arnold, a professional musician who can play the guitar and sing like nobody's business. And he's a just an all-around great guy. There we were in a Memphis restaurant talking music and spirituality, and he started telling me about his own spiritual journey, which included a few stories about his long-time friend Jonathan Cain.
Yes, that Jonathan Cain -- the Journey keyboardist who co-wrote such hits as "Faithfully," "Open Arms" (my wife's prom song) and everyone's favorite anthem, "Don't Stop Believin'" (go ahead and click here to watch/listen and enjoy. Just come back here when it's over).
For the record, I despise Journey. I've been despising them for more than 30 years of my life. Ask my wife -- she's put up with my obnoxious rants against anything related to Journey for 25 of those years. Ask anyone who's ever tried to listen to or, heaven forbid, sing along with, a Journey song in my presence.
Yet, here I sat with my friend who is friends with a leader in this band I love to hate (click here to listen to Jimmy playing guitar with the Jonathan Cain Band in 1977 and covering a Moody Blues tune). It took a couple of weeks, but I began an Internet conversation with Jimmy about Journey -- online therapy, if you will -- in which I've been working out a deep dark secret of mine ("Liberating my soul," Jimmy calls it).
My "liberation" began by confessing to Jimmy that I've secretly been enjoying Journey since my junior high years (1980-1982). Outwardly, though, I loved hating them. My confession will come as no surprise to my wife and sons, who've asked me many times that if I hated Journey so much, why do I insist on singing along with them on the radio? And, just why, exactly, do I know all the words?
"I think any music/art that shines a light on darkness is totally valid regardless of style or popularity," Jimmy reassuringly responded. "Touching others in a way that brings light to their lives is the noblest of goals. Of course, the same logic holds true for all areas of our lives. Our job is to reflect the light within us..."
Jimmy grew up Catholic, but he sure sounded like some of my favorite Quaker writers with his response.
You know, in a way it really is a form of soul-liberation. Jesus says that I am to love my neighbor as I love myself; and hating myself for secretly liking Journey has surely projected itself negatively in my relationship with others.
Thanks to Jimmy, with whom I had a little Journey moment, I am learning to love myself by accepting the fact that I enjoy Journey. Maybe I'll become a little less judgmental and a little more loving toward others as a result.
Now, if you'll excuse me, all of this Quaker-like talk of "Light" has made me want to sing, well, a Journey song. Feel free to join me and sing along: "When the lights go down in the sit-TAY..."