Marley, Devotion, & Richness


1945; In Nine Mile, a small farm town in Jamaica, Bob Marley is born. He's been dead for almost 32 years. Today, I'm 29 years old. I don't remember being introduced to Bob Marley, but I've always known about him. How fascinating is that? A boy from a small town in Jamaica grows to influence the lives of millions even after he's passed. I always find myself deeply moved by individuals who have managed to connect to that universal place inside us. The Beatles and Bob Marley. Someone should make that mix tape.

I watched Marley about two weeks ago, and I feel like it's one of those films that hit me on a soul level. I was dreaming of Marley for days. Ok, I will admit that some of this mayyyyy be because I think he's absolutely beautiful. But, aside from that, his utter devotion to life deeply inspired me. I want to focus on two short clips in this post that left a deep impression on me. One is about selfless devotion to something greater than ourselves and the other is about fulfillment and relationship to life.

First, it's important to understand that Bob Marley was a Rasta, and while the Rasta movement isn't relevant to our postmodern times (Rastas believe the emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, was Jesus incarnate) the feeling, lyrical content, and transmission of his music is love and positivity. The official Bob Marley website puts it perfectly, "Bob Marley is a hero figure in the classic mythological sense." In the film you get a sense of all sides of Marley. He was legally married, but decided he didn't believe in marriage, took on multiple lovers, and had children with several different women. His children don't portray him as a warm, compassionate father. Yet, when you look at him in context- when you recognize where he came from, the time, the religion, and what his life was like, you can understand his inabilities, even without justifying them. He was a deeply spiritual person, connected to something much bigger than his personal self. You can see it in his movements, his face, his voice in his last show- spirit was coming through him.

"My life is only important if me can help plenty people. If my life is just for me and my own security than me no want it. My life is for people."

My two favorite clips from the film are featured back to back in the trailer (1:06-1:28). With Redemption Song setting the mood I can easily get choked up hearing Marley speak about his devotion to humanity. You can clearly see in his face how earnest he is. He really means it. He truly did not want his life for personal reasons. This is the kind of purpose and selflessness that is undervalued in our culture. He really felt his life was meaningless without making a positive impression on others. It makes me wonder what the world would be like if we all felt that kind of devotion to one another. So many of us are caught up in what we want, what's wrong with us- our focus is on the lacking; our focus is usually on ourselves. We aren't ever full enough to truly give. It's all about what we can take to fill something inside, which brings me to the next quote:

"Interviewer: Are you a rich man? Do you have a lot of possessions? Marley: Possessions make you rich? I don't have that type of richness. My richness is life."

This small clip is part of what inspired me to write Simplify. It's one of those things I knew, but didn't know enough. I love how he questions the interviewer, makes him really think about what he is asking. The words we use are important. Our relationship to life is even more important. I think it's fitting that these two quotes were placed back to back in this order in the trailer. If we're always inwardly focused there will be an emptiness. But, if our lives have purpose, if we know who we really are in the deepest way, we'll be full. When we're full we can give to each other. We live in a culture where our attention is on things. So many of us are always striving to have more, more, more. This isn't richness. Bob Marley was right; richness is life.