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I’ve recently discovered a website that streams music concerts from the past. Live concerts that were never intended to be recorded. I find myself drawn to the rawness and reality of these recordings. The occasional buzz of a guitar string. The vocal that slips a bit off center. The fact that the instrument and vocal levels are rarely balanced.

We increasingly live in a world that is not “real.” It seems like a good thing at first but there is subtle downside to it all.

I recently made a trip to Universal studios. We toured the back lots to see the film set locations where the buildings lining the streets are just false fronts. There is nothing behind the front of the building you see in the movies.

Later we rode a virtual roller coaster. So fine tuned to how our brains work that you feel you are flying, falling, tumbling and crashing. Yet your body never moves more than five feet. We even saw the street where Desperate Housewives is filmed. The streets and “houses” are rather small. Special wide angle cameras make them look life sized. The plastic hydrangeas and wisterias look real by the time it gets to your television.

The most popular shows are reality shows. But there is nothing real about them. People who know they are being filmed, followed by cameras through their scripted day. I haven’t seen too much of that reality in my day.

And there is the problem. When we live in a world where the music has been processed to perfection, watch carefully scripted “reality” on TV and cook microwave meals that can’t be messed up it’s easy to expect our lives to measure up to a reality that doesn’t exist.

No, reality is finding out our health isn’t what we thought it was. Or discovering that poverty can “strike like a bandit.” Realizing we have screwed up, the same way, once again. That we have disappointed, or been disappointed once more. To wake up with worry, even when we know we should trust. In the case of my daughter, coming back from leave to find out a favorite coworker has passed away; at too young of an age.

Like the concert music, life is raw. Maybe not off the tracks raw, but full of minor imperfections and unbalance. But that is opportunity. Because if things were as perfect as we see on TV or hear on our iPod there would be no room for us to make a difference. No opportunity to set goals. To strive towards our “high calling.”

The old low-fidelity concerts streaming on my iPhone are a reminder that music doesn’t have to be perfect to be good. A reminder that while I’m not perfect, that it’s ok; life doesn’t happen in the controlled environment of a music studio. Rather it’s an uncontrolled “live” concert. And that’s ok because it challenges us to grow. Growth is good. At some point it allows us to look back and realize how far we have come, even as we set new goals.