When I first thought of the idea to interview a variety of creative and inspiring souls, I asked my friend Corinne if she had some people in her life she would define as authentic beings. Her first response, without hesitation was Todd Fink. I feel so grateful to share Todd’s responses with you today. He truly is an authentic soul. Can’t you tell just from looking at his beautiful eyes?! Enjoy.
Can you share a bit about yourself?
My name is Todd Fink. I’m the co-founder of The Giving Tree Band, an Americana-rock band based in Yorkville, IL. I play the banjo and write some of the songs.
How do you define authenticity?
In the context of human life, I would describe it as optimal living which come from self awareness, playing to your strengths, embracing your unique qualities, and accepting what comes naturally, without resistance and without inner mental grasping for something else.
Can you describe the path you took to get to the place where you are today? As in, how did you find your calling?
The path I took and continue to tread is meditation. I practice a very specific meditative technique and ancient system of yoga. I also have a spiritual guide who I’ve been following for nearly 8 years now. His teachings have been the treasure of my life. In 2005, I decided to separate myself from everything and lived with my teacher for 6 months in an ashram in India to intensify my practice. This was a highly transformational period for me. I learned how to meditate and live harmoniously. Although I forget sometimes, my calling is to know myself and to live in love.
How does your current career and soulful journey reflect your authentic self?
As the question indicates, what you do is not really as important as how you do it. So my musical career and everything else I do on the journey reflects the authentic self when it is done with love and inner contentment, since this is the nature of the Self.
Who inspires and motivates you to continue your path to being your authentic self?
My Guru. He is like the sun in my life. Because of the sun, people have the energy and light to do many things, but the sun is detached. It shines for all and does not make anyone do anything. It is like that with the divine life of a saint.
How do you ensure that you maintain your own authenticity, when often it can be a struggle?
In regards to my career, I had a period of several years where I didn’t listen to any music. We are easily influenced by others. I needed this time to differentiate between what was influencing me and what was honestly waiting to be expressed from within. In our band, we talk about a different kind of virtuosity. It is not based on technical prowess on the instrument but guided by the root word – virtue. Playing with honesty, integrity, gratitude and love is virtuosity to me. This approach will help maintain authenticity in any creative endeavor.
Miles Davis was a student of saxophonist Charlie Byrd and trumpeter Dizzie Gillespie. They played very fast bop. In the beginning of his career, Miles tried to play like that because he wanted to sound like them. It wasn’t natural for him, and he was not as good at it as his predecessors. Ultimately, he changed his approach and played in a way that was natural for him. Now a jazz legend, Miles is credited as the pioneer of multiple styles in jazz and remembered as the epitome of “cool” because of his slower, romantic phrasing on his horn. We have a lyric in one of our songs, “no one can do what you do better than you.”
For people struggling to find their own authenticity, what advice can you offer?
Look within and ask, “who am I?” Ask again and again. You are always the authentic Self. All that is required is to detach from false identifications.
People often tell me that they don’t feel inspired or creative. Your life is the real work of art. So, how are you living? How are you eating, walking, talking, breathing? Are you aware? Are you doing with love? If you change the outlook, everything else will fall into place.
If you had to use one word to sum up your year, what word would that be and why?
Opportunity. Everything is an opportunity. What we call “good luck” is an opportunity to be humble, grateful, charitable and so on. What we call “bad luck” is an opportunity for personal growth and to manifest more love, strength, patience, acceptance, and contentment.
Lastly, where can we find you in the web-o-sphere?
Todd- such a pleasure and thanks so much for participating in the series. If YOU would like to take part in the interview series or know someone who you believe truly lives an authentic life, please send me an email: amanda[dot]coolidge[at]gmail[dot]com.