I pretty much went back to work. Nothing beats reality. —Sixto Rodriguez
It isn’t really his music, though to my mind, this talented musician holds his own against any modern artist, thanks to his potent lyrics and Dylanesque voice and aura. It isn’t even his unusual story, though the course of his life journey is the kind of Cinderella tale that just doesn’t happen in this calloused world, but only within the mythic cosmos of our wildest dreams.
It’s something else that makes me want to be like Sixto Diaz Rodriguez when I grow up, and that is his attitude after mysterious casts of fate prevented what should have been a rocket ride to stardom. Instead of the American dream, the Detroit native went back in his home city for the next thirty years, doing demolition work, living in relative poverty, and trying not to wonder too much what went wrong. The highs and lows of this magical tale are told in the award-winning 2012 documentary Searching for Sugar Man. Though the film is not the full account, by any measurement except the most cynical this is still a refresher course in miracles.
The world is rumored to be full of celebrities. Attitude alone sets Rodriguez apart as a great man and genuine grownup. When all was obscured and shadowed, he had the grace to accept his reality as good and acceptable instead of growing bitter over what could have been. At some point, he went from “being the outcast to… who he really was,” and this is where his story becomes our own. Every human being knows instinctively that what he appears to be in this transient life is far from the whole truth. The Christian faith is crammed with compelling arguments about just why this is so, and the apostle John lifts us out of our finite grasp of ourselves to remind us of what lies beyond the shadowed present:
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (I John 3:2)
Until that appearing, I look to people like Sixto Rodriguez to remind me that the temporary struggle is as much a part of the Big Picture as any eternal outcome will prove to be.