Who Will Save Your Soul?

Life will throw you many challenges, some will look like life preservers in a tank full of sharks only to board a ship full of pirates. When it comes to saving your soul the resource you need is a lot closer than you think.

by Pete Ferguson

I heard a very interesting interview with Singer/Songwriter Jewel recently. She revealed a lot about her history and the person she has become.

The child of an emotionally abusive father – who’s own parents doled out ten times the abuse on him as a child – and abandoned by her mother at age eight, Jewel has come a long way.

She talked about having been kicked out of her apartment because they couldn’t make the rent and she was living in her car while several record companies were courting her, offering millions of dollars in contracts, picking her up in limos and taking her out to dinner. She mentioned that she felt guilty for eating their food, but was very cautious not to sign.

Her father had taught her brutal street smarts, but for advice on signing a record deal, she turned to the library and read lots of books. And she learned a valuable lesson.

A good deal up front means a lot of obligation on the back end.

When you hear about musicians being signed for millions of dollars, you might think, wow, that’s pretty amazing, the record company is really investing in that person.

It’s called indentured servitude. The artist, actor, author, or whomever has just been bought.

Jewel also understood that with a massive advance like that, her creative freedom would be owned by someone else. She would give up the control over her career because a massive debt would need to be paid back.

So instead, she took an extremely conservative $100,000 advance and signed a contract with the stipulation that the record company cover her rent – and in return she has one of the largest back-end agreements. Meaning she doesn’t get much up front, but then a large part of every dollar made on her material ends up in her pocket, and not to cover millions of dollars in advance fees.

Jewel made a wise move. She has watched other musicians become too much too fast. Constantly required to produce, to tour, to promote to pay the dole. Many lose themselves, forget why they are in the business, resorting to drugs, alcohol and anything else for an escape from the prison they willingly – but perhaps unknowingly – walked into.

Why is it that most great authors write their greatest books in their 50s and 60s, but most great song writers have little to give after their 20s and 30s? ~ Jewel

I’m fascinated by success. I grew up in a neighborhood where the median salary was probably $30k. No one I knew had much money, and everyone had large families – with up to ten or twelve children. I didn’t know anyone personally with wealth, but I became quite convinced that money could buy a lot of happiness, but could only look to the lottery as a source of redemption.

My father changed jobs and we found ourselves in Texas and then New Jersey. I went to high school with kids born into situations with immense wealth. And I became convinced that money could also buy a lot of heartache, abandonment, and really big problems.

Money does not make a person, it reveals them.

The only one who will save your soul is you. I can’t do it for you. You can’t buy redemption as a commodity. Your parents can’t either. No priest, counselor, friend, government, or other entity will be able to be your savior. If you are religious, redemption is available, but it still requires you to make the decision to change.

When others try to redeem you, you are likely left resenting it. But when you are able to earn your right to live another day through overcoming treachery, grief, and pain, you are also able to enjoy that day more than any other.

Life is short. Stephanie and I have too many personal examples to illustrate this at the moment amongst our friends – a child lost in the womb, a brother lost in his prime, a mother robbed of seeing her grandchildren grow.

If you can stand independent and breath, walk, believe, and express your opinion, you have much to celebrate. And you are in the position to save your soul.


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