Dayton: (n) a city in SW Ohio
Growing up in Central Ohio, Dayton was eighty miles away—just far enough that you felt going there was “taking a trip.”
I’ve always liked Dayton.
When I first started as a musician—impoverished and therefore ridiculed by friends and relatives as being irresponsible—I had a little place I went to in Dayton to perform my songs, where they treated me like I was on the top forty—and also, in some way, like I was a long-lost relative from Yugoslavia.
They loved me.
Therefore I loved them.
That’s when I learned the system. It is so much easier to love people when you know they’ve already made the leap to love you. It is certainly possible to love people when they’re considering loving you so you can share those feelings back with them in a considerate way.
Yet it is nearly implausible to love someone who has decided that you are not pleasing.
Loving those who don’t love you.
There’s really not any nobility in it—even though for centuries we have touted that true spirituality is ignoring one’s feelings in an attempt to aspire to more god-like actions.
But since we’re not supposed to be gods—we’re human—it seems forgivable to go ahead and feel at least “iffy” about those who place us in the reject pile.
I felt rejected in my hometown.
I wasn’t perfect, or even close to it.
It wasn’t that I didn’t do things that were worthy of critique.
It’s just how quickly those around me were ready to criticize.
In Dayton, I felt human.
I felt that my presence brought a smile.
I believed they even looked forward to seeing me.
I heard applause.
I received edification.
And because I did, I grew. I experimented. I took some chances.
I found out that my right hand and my left hand could do much more on the piano than I had imagined.
My voice could go higher.
I could actually sing on pitch.
My music gained emotion.
I was willing to listen to those who favored one tune over another without sensing an attack.
Somewhere on the eighty miles over to Dayton, my visit there and the journey back, I always healed.
The process was faithful—every time. I left home despondent, curious if the evening would make it better. I took a deep breath, put together a show, played it the best I could and expanded in the appreciation.
My heart grew, and I drove home—a little less defensive.
It was heavenly.
It was an experience I grew to cherish—and named “The Dayton Effect.”