So, who the hell exactly is LawnMemo?
I know exactly who I am some days, and other days I’m still learning. I’m sure you’re the same.
I learned something about myself this last week on tour.
One of my friends said, “Memo, we’re onto your schtick, you literally come over to everyone and tell them every single nice thing someone else says about them.”
It floored me. I mean, I’ve always strived as a person to see the good in people, but never has that been put to me like that. I thought a lot about it this week.
My grandfather Charlie, was the greatest human being I have ever met, and he wasn’t even my blood. My mother was left by her “grandfather” (I also have a blood uncle) while my grandmother was birthing her in the hospital. My grandmother then remarried Charlie, who had recently lost his first wife to cancer at a young age and had three kids himself.
Charlie made my mother and her brother feel a part of the family. I wasn’t around back then, but both of them tell that story often. I instantly saw it as a young adult. The admiration my mother and uncle had for Charlie has always stuck with me. It wasn’t until later in life that I learned my mom was adopted. I thought she was kidding when she told me. I never in my life saw Charlie treat any person differently than the next. He was the kindest, gentlest, most patient man I’ve ever met.
My mom’s blood father tried to contact her when she was about 40-years old. She said the most badass thing I’ve ever heard her say: “I already have a father, no thank you, goodbye.” And, she never talked to him again.
Charlie taught me the game of golf at 5-years old. More than any pointers or swing tips, he taught me how to be a gentleman and how to treat the game of golf.
Charlie was pure class: the way he interacted with his friends on the course, the way he glowingly spoke how proud he was of me as a grandson, and the way he ALWAYS said nice things about whoever we met. I was very young, but it’s some of the most powerful stuff that I’ve never forgotten.
I remember the first time I hit a ball 100 yards. He literally threw his club down and jumped up and down and cheered. The entire course looked at him. It is one of the times I felt most loved on this Earth. Charlie never cared how he played. It was ALWAYS about how I played and spending time with me. I’ll never forget it. Not forgetting that moment has taught me a valuable life lesson.
Lesson #1: The more you give of yourself to help others, the more impactful it will be on you.
Charlie took the time to teach me to be a golfer, but really it was never about the game. It was about being with his grandson.
Charlie fought in Vietnam and one of the rare times I got him a bit tipsy I asked him if he had ever killed someone. He cried instantly and I quickly apologized. Of course, Charlie said he appreciated my question and to not beat myself for asking it. He replied, “War was an awful place Myke, I try not to revisit it,”
Lesson #2: The past can be awful and scar you. You can never forget it or totally leave it. The only thing you can do is be a better person every day forward.
Charlie developed Alzheimer’s in his 80s and became a shell of the man he has. Watching my favorite person deteriorate like that was incredibly difficult to watch.
I’ve been to more funerals than I would like and Charlie’s was unlike any other. There was a legit line out the door. We had to open up another day to accommodate everyone. Charlie was a real estate agent for 55 years. I met people who had three generations purchase homes from Charlie. They cried to me and said Charlie was the nicest most trustworthy man they had ever met and they were so sad their great grandchildren wouldn’t get to buy a home from him.
It was just unreal listening to people tell me what he meant to him.
Speaking at his funeral was one of the hardest yet honorable things in my lifetime. I was devastated but proud to speak about what an incredible man he was.
Lesson #3: If you want to take inventory on how well you are living your life, think about what people might say about you at your funeral.
Why is my relationship with my grandfather important?
Well, it’s simple.
I was young and a much different person back then. I never told Charlie how I felt about him and I have always regretted it. It’s hard knowing that the person who has inspired you the most might not have ever truly known that.
I’m sure he knew how much I adored him, but imagine hearing “You are the most inspirational person in my life.”
I vowed I would never let that happen again. I got out of my comfort zone and started telling people what they meant to me. It was hard at first.
My dad (another fantastic human) was never really affectionate and told me so as a youth.
His father was a real asshole and an alcoholic who didn’t provide much affection.
When I first said “I love you” to my father, it was soooo uncomfortable. I thought it was going to be the most awkward thing. Just the opposite however, his reaction was priceless. He simply melted. I knew that would be the hardest time for me to ever say it to someone and I was right.
It only gets easier. Our relationship has only gotten stronger because of it.
Lesson #4: Opening up and sharing how much you care for someone is REALLY hard at first. But, it only gets easier.
Through the years, I attend more funerals, and witness the people I care about go through more and more difficult times. My resolve has only gotten stronger when I tell people how much I care about them.
After not seeing people for 18 months of the pandemic, I reached an all-time high for the importance of making sure people know what they mean to me.
My life on Twitter has become something that has changed me. When I first started out, people who had some sway saw what I was trying to do and helped me. Scott Bernstein (@yemblog)s at the front of that list. I found out real quick why he is the Phish Godfather of Twitter. He’s simply the nicest person on the platform who tries to help anyone that is trying to do anything for the benefit of the Phish community. No snark, no dick comments, just a force for good. I’ve told Scotty this many times, and I can’t wait to tell him again.
I quickly decided that was the route I wanted to take. From there SOOO many amazing people reached out to me and helped me grow. Too too many to name but please know I love all of you and am forever grateful.
I learned something VERY quickly this way. The nicer I was to people on Twitter, the more I poured my love for Phish into my projects and the more people responded to me. It was incredible. At any second in any day, I had the means to tell someone in 140 characters how great I thought they were no matter where they were in the country.
And sure it’s just Twitter. But it is what Twitter has done for me that matters. It’s brought hundreds and hundreds of people into my life. People that help me swing shows I would have never have seen. People that send me get well messages when I have surgery, people that took care of me when I had too much, people I travel the country to try and see.
I now have people in my life who tell me they love me on a random 2am on a Thursday because they know I’m up. All because of some crazy app.
Lesson #5: The nicer you are to people, the better your own life will become. It comes back tenfold.
So, with that little history let’s get back to what I learned.
“Memo, we’re onto your schtick, you literally come over to everyone and tell them every single nice thing someone else says about them.”
Ya know what…they were completely right.
I kind of took inventory of how I talk to people this weekend.
I do four things often.
- Give my own compliment to them (hopefully many) or bring up something I learned about them that I love.
- I then tell them all the nice things I heard someone else say about them (that statement was 100 percent correct).
- I try to ask them a genuine question nobody else might ask them. Something about them I really am interested in or a question that I think might get them to open up more. Then I LISTEN as hard as I can.
- Tell them how much they mean to me.
This isn’t something I ever made a checklist out to do. I just did some MAJOR self reflection on this Tour.
It’s something I’ve just naturally figured out over the years. I talk to a LOT of people. I’ve been a waiter or a teacher for 23 years.
I CALL people on the phone. In fact I have a call list. When I drive to work, I start dialing till someone picks up. No worries if they don’t pick up, I just try another day till they do. I’m relentless. I’ve gotten people who hate talking on the phone telling me just how much they appreciate it.
This is who I am, even if it’s a schtick.
Hell, I probably fired off 100 tweets to people today because I couldn’t control myself.
I just genuinely care for people and the more I get to talk, learn, and help them, the more they help me. The deeper that connection grows the more impactful it is to me. The process of learning intimate stuff about someone is as powerful as a Reba Jam.
The thing is I don’t think it’s just me though.
We all have an incredible amount of love and compassion to share. We all got into Phish on the internet to share our love for Phish with others and find others like us.
We all start that way, but sometimes people lose their way. I try to remember that, and sometimes even the toughest cookies crumble. I don’t block anyone and try not to argue with anyone.
Lesson #6: Kindness and compassion WILL ALWAYS WIN. We are all good at the core.
So, yes I tell people nice things that other people say about them.
My conclusion is why the hell are we keeping that good stuff a secret? We are easy to tell people if someone said something nasty about them. Why can’t the opposite be true?
Everytime I tell someone something nice, they light up. They blush, they hug me, they say that is so sweet. It’s pretty fucking fun.
Then you know what they do?
They go find that person or text them and say thank you so much for saying that.
It’s totally fucking awesome. Sometimes that person might be a little shy like I was once. So, I’m helping to nudge them that way.
And Phish Tour the best place ever to do it. We see each other like 10 times a year if most of us are lucky. We’re all seeing our favorite band and a lot of our favorite people.
We’re breaking away from the tough day-to-day struggle. We’re forgetting about the real world for a while. Everyone is primed. It’s THE BEST place to tell someone how much you care about them. We are open minded, free spirits, and loving people.
People will remember what you say about them sometimes even as much as the concert.
Re-listening to shows instantly floods with you of the memories of that trip. What if you played back a song and thought of the nice things someone said to you before or after the show?
Tell someone you will never forget how much fun you had staying with them at The Bakers Dozen. Tell them the simple act of getting coffee with them was an incredible part of your trip. Tell them spending Magnaball with them was the time of your life. Tell them how sending you a book to try and help you improve was such a thoughtful thing to do. Tell them how they made such a selfless act for you, in your time of need. Tell them how chilling on the couch with the giant bugout tree was a magical night thanks to them.
Just even tell them how much fun they were to be with the night before.
This is the stuff that matters.
My worst day on Phish Tour became my most famous. I got out of control and completely blacked out and remembered nothing about the show. I tweeted gibberish and everyone thought it was hilarious.
I was embarrassed and disappointed in myself. I take Phish pretty damn seriously and remembering every note is my top priority. Other people had to take care of me and I hated that probably even more.
But out of this disappointment came one Tweet that secretly showed a piece of my soul.
“Vruemts fce. Nrugh.. Lobe you all”
The next day everyone brought it up. I hated it, but it was a reminder what a disaster I was. I wanted to hide.
But, then after some time I realized it might be something different.
I noticed people using it in the kindest of ways. When people started to really express their love for others they started saying “I LOBE YOU.” It became a way of expressing even more love.
Not to mention the people that were saying LOBE were some of the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. It even became a Twitter hashtag #LOBE or #LOBEYOU.
It became a thing I once hated to something I’ve come to embrace. There’s a purity that at my worst moment I still wanted to get in one last “I love you” before I blacked out. I just couldn’t type.
In fact, someone even dressed up as LOBE for Halloween, and inspired the title for this post, and we even raised money for charity using it.
Thanks to the incredible @jordansheldon3.
Isn’t he beautiful?
Maybe you already do a lot of the things I’ve talked about in your life and on Phish Tour. Do them even more. It can never be enough. Especially in your everyday life.
I don’t have kids, and at 41 I most likely will never have them. Sometimes I’m very sad I won’t have an impact on someone the way Charlie or my father has had on me. So, maybe it is even more important that I have to find my affection in other ways.
Phish just played an all-time tour after a pandemic took them away from us. It’s time to celebrate. Call the people (YES, ON THE PHONE) you tour with and tell them every single nice thing you know about them TODAY. It will be the most rewarding thing you do.
Lesson #7: Someday, Phish Tour won’t be a thing and we won’t see each other as often. Life might change where you or your friends can no longer tour. Time is always the enemy.
So, say it now, spread LOBE and Light to strangers and most importantly to the people who mean the most to you. It’s the best way to live.
I LOBE YOU ALL, and I will never change my schick.
I wanted to note the passing of Ernie Johnson’s son, Michael Johnson, who had Muscular Dystrophy. Ernie Johnson is a sportscaster for NBA on TNT. He always told people he loved them, which had a HUGE impact in spurring me to write this.
This is one of the most incredible stories you will ever watch
Watch that, and you will learn.
Lesson #8: There is value in everybody.