Imagine a life where your passion is celebrated and you're not being called 'crazy' for doing the things you love. In this post I recount how long it took me to overcome the label of being 'crazy' and instead happily living my passion.
Welcome to my very first blog post. I was on a holiday in Canada when a friend asked me to write a guest post for her blog, recounting a story I had just told her. She found it very inspiring, and since I have received positive feedback on the post on her blog, I have decided to share it here as a first post on my own blog. It was first published by Rania M. M. Watts on her blog, which can be found here.
“HOW many Chris de Burgh concerts have you seen? That's CRAZY!!”
That's the usual response I always receive in Europe when I talk about my passion. Here's the story of how it also can be received very differently.
When passion isn't called crazy but instead celebrated
I am currently on a holiday in Canada, to see this beautiful country and take in the beautiful sights it has to offer, like the Niagara Falls or the Rocky Mountains, and to go to a lot of concerts. I went to the Chris de Burgh concert in St. Catherine’s on 22 April 2023, and for the first time in my life I was not called ‘crazy’ when I answered the question as to ‘how many Chris de Burgh concerts have you seen?’ truthfully with ‘288 times.’ What I got was a resounding ‘WOW!!! That’s amazing!!!’ and I almost couldn’t believe that someone would congratulate me to that number. When I asked the lady why she found it amazing, she said it was a testament to my #passion, and that it was a huge achievement to have seen him live in concert so many times. She knew what she was talking about, as her husband next to her had proudly told me that he had seen Chris already 32 times. For me, it was a revelation that someone else would see my love for music and concerts as what it is: a passion. A passion that started over 40 years ago, when I first heard a Chris de Burgh song on the radio, called ‘Don’t Pay The Ferryman’.
I was only 10 years old at the time, and I was already a keen lover of music, but mostly of artists like Simon and Garfunkel or Cat Stevens. With Chris de Burgh I had found the first artist whose voice hit a chord in my soul that no other singer had managed to strike. Especially when I found his older records that had songs like ‘The Tower’ or ‘Spanish Train’ on them, I felt a deep connection to the lyrics as well as to the melody and particularly the voice. I had quite a strict father, and often when I was sad or felt lonely, it was Chris’s music that comforted me and soothed my soul. It was also particularly my father, who always made fun of me for being ‘a Chris de Burgh fan’, and he would turn the volume down on the car radio when I said ‘oh, that’s the new Chris de Burgh song they are playing!’, just to tease me and annoy me. Over the years he also regularly ridiculed me in front of other people for being ‘such a crazy Chris de Burgh fan’, which led to me not talking about my passion and hiding it for many years.
So, when I was old enough to go to a concert (it was the ‘Into The Light’ tour in 1986, and that first concert was on November 6th in the Sporthalle in Cologne, Germany), I had my first setback. Firstly, my father dropped me and my then boyfriend off too late at the venue, then I only had a ticket at the far end and couldn’t really see anything. The good thing was, I had seen posters that night, that there would be a second show the next night. So I told my father that I wanted to go again, and he forbid me to go, with the words that ‘it is crazy to go and see the same concert twice!! It’s a total waste of money, and he will just sing exactly the same songs!’ Needless to say, I didn’t go, and for years I would only ever attend the one concert in Cologne, my hometown in Germany.
Fast forward to 2001, when my father died, and things changed for me. It was a strange experience for me when my mother called and informed me that my father had died, and I didn’t quite understand it for a while. I felt like a dog, that was taken off the leash and I was running through a field of grass, jumping and frolicking, and I felt very happy. I know, not how you are supposed to feel when your parent dies, but this is how I felt. At the time I didn’t understand the impact that my father had had on me but looking back it has become very clear. Regarding my Chris de Burgh concert passion, it was released with the next tour.
From 2002 onwards, I have been to see the same concert of the then current tour for many times, and it has given me so much #fun, #joy and #happiness that I sometimes regret that I didn’t allow myself this freedom earlier. The experience of every single concert is different, the audiences are different, the atmosphere is unique, and even the concerts are different. Sometimes the setlist is slightly changed, or the musicians make a mistake or something unexpected happens. The most important thing for me is the energy that one can be part of during a concert. Chris de Burgh is a very generous artist, and he showers his fans and his audiences with his love, he gives an enormous amount of energy, and it is palpable. He is grateful to his fans who have bought his records through the years and enabled him to have the success he has had, and he shows his gratitude. Then there is the audience, and we fans feel the same, so grateful for his music! We show our love through our applause, through singing along or sometimes even just singing for him, olé olé olé oléééé is very often heard in German venues, amongst other fan hymns. It is fantastic to be part of this energy, to be able to give back to the artist, and to feel this vast amount of love, going back and forth between the stage and the audience, and to feel it with every cell of my being. It is as if my soul becomes a part of the performance, it is energised and elevated, and I love this feeling!!! Obviously, it is also great to meet other fans, get to know them and even find and make friends, who share the same passion, it’s an added bonus so to speak.
Over the years, I have accumulated 295 concerts, and I will break the 300 mark this summer. Without exception, whenever I have been asked how many concerts I have attended and have answered accurately, I have been told that I am crazy. That it is stupid or ridiculous to go and see not only the same artist, but also the same show so many times, and I have carried this ‘mark’ all my life, but I learned to think ‘so what, I like it and I can do it, so I do!’
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019, I went to 29 concerts throughout the year, while having a mastectomy, 6 months of chemo and 1 month of radiation. I travelled from the UK to Germany, to Poland, Switzerland, Estonia, Portugal, Ireland, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Belgium to attend the concerts, first with hair and then without, and I scheduled my chemotherapy appointments in a way that they fitted between the shows. Like in Belfast, Northern Ireland the show finished at 11pm and I drove to Dublin airport through the night. I took the 7am flight to London, and by 9am I was in the Chemo suite, ready to receive my drugs. Again, my Oncologist told me that I was crazy and that I would need to preserve my energy, but she didn’t understand that going to the concerts was what was GIVING ME the energy!!! Yes, looking back and with a pandemic behind us, it may have been a little bit careless, but I believe in the power of the mind, and the mind influences our emotions and our body, and I had no side effects from the treatments, I was just happy and grateful that I could still follow my passion. Of course, I had my friends around me, who sometimes travelled with me and allowed me to rest when they went to the venues early to reserve the first row seats or standing places. We had a blast, and yes, I rested more than I ever did before, but I felt alive and loved my life.
So, when the lady in St. Catherine’s congratulated me to that number of concerts that I attended, I was blown away that somebody would see it as an achievement, and I was overjoyed to find someone who also believed in the power of passion. I had the same experience in London, ON a few days later, and again in Winnipeg, so I came to the conclusion that Canadians really value passion and what it means. That you love something so much, that you give anything to make it come true, and even if the odds are against it, you still do whatever you can to make it come true. I didn’t have the money for this trip to Canada, only two weeks before the intended departure date something happened, and I could buy the flight ticket. Then other things happened, and I could finance the two and a half weeks in this beautiful country, and I can attend 7 concerts. For me, it is a dream come true, and I love that the people I meet during the concerts also see it as an achievement. Other people may go to see their favourite football team regularly, I choose to see my favourite artist as often as I can. It has given me not only the wonderful experiences of travelling to South Africa, Canada, Israel, Ukraine and all over Europe to see him, I have met so many lovely people, made incredible life-long friends, and received the energy to get through some hard times. Music is a fantastic healer in itself and sharing the experience with others in a concert only intensifies its power. And I believe that following your passion is nothing but expressing your soul’s desire. Living your passion means that you are realising your soul’s intention, and I am finally free from feeling ‘crazy’ to be doing it, I embrace it and love it, and I wish that all those who called me crazy would have the courage to follow their own passion as well. I think the world would have a lot more happy people… even if they appear to be a little bit crazy! ;-)