The unthinkable has happened yet again. Two weeks ago, on a clear Sunday evening, a joyous crowd of music lovers was assaulted by a madman firing an automatic weapon from a room on the 32nd floor of Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay hotel. As of this morning, 59 are dead and more than 500 injured. Everyone at that concert and millions more will never experience life going forward quite the way it was when the music stopped.
Commentators are sharing reactions touching all the expected subjects: mental health, gun control (especially semi-automatic and assault weapons access and sales), venue security, and the gift we have enjoyed in this country for nearly 250 years of an open, fear-free society. It’s all on the table.
What few of us can plumb, however, is the mental, physical, and emotional wreckage that will forever mar the once violence-free landscape of the survivors. Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, children and grandparents, multi-generation bonds of friendship will feel their souls wounded by that violent moment’s shrapnel forever. For them, the music has stopped and may not return for a long time.
Our clients walk around with music stopping moments in their past that often lie silent but never forgotten. A woman you serve remembers that gut-wrenching moment when, as a 9-year-old girl, her father attacked her mother in a fit of mindless rage. For her, some of life’s music stopped that day. A man sits with you who, as a 17-year-old, could not have been any freer as he drove an old convertible with a buddy from his childhood riding “shotgun,” rock music blaring, long hair blowing in the wind until a tire blew and the car flipped and his friend died before help could arrive. For him, some of the music stopped that night.
And yes, we too have our music stopping moments. Advisors travel this human road replete with all its music-making, music-stopping episodes. We bring to this business and every prospect and client our story of success and failure, triumph and defeat, joy and sorrow. So when did the music stop for you? If you’re like me, there have been several silent episodes in my 64 years. Next week will mark the 14th anniversary of my beloved father’s death. When I sit at the piano now and bring to my fingers music he loved so much, I often have to stop and collect my emotions before finishing the piece. Almost 15 years ago, a career ended abruptly and the music stopped. Eighteen years ago, I remember reading a letter from a child that ripped a tune from my heart that still lies in a trashcan someplace.
In these days of national mourning, when our prayers rise for the survivors and the families of those who died, when our collective sense of the sacred has been torn from liberty’s seamless garment, remember that all of us—clients and advisors alike—must keep living into hope even when the music stops. My deep conviction is that when we realize the gravity of such seasons, we may well do our very best work because we bring our full, unvarnished humanity into our practice where serving clients become far more than managing risk or evaluating a portfolio.