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Bloom Vol. 26: Privilege

This week, musician and mental health advocate Alex Wagner tells a story of privilege and providing access to the building blocks of wellness and growth.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12).

Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is a gift.

It is a marvel when you can bask in its light as you look backward toward the vast expanse you had arrived from.

We show people the easiest way to make it through a crowd at a concert.

We make space so people can feel the music.


A guide for the tens of thousands at night who go out is often a DJ.

Time for a small story.

A local DJ hides a song away from the world that they’ve discovered.

It’s made people cry. It’s brought people together. It’s opened up their eyes to ways they could change.

This gem might be a song that would set a soul free if heard alone in their room.

It might be a record that would take feet and remove fear through its beat.

Perhaps this song the DJ hides is an original production they’ve never released.

A record etched from lived experience.

The natural vibration of this out-of-this-world energy is from their heart.

They begin to talk to their close friends about this song, one they wrote over ten or twenty years that somehow speaks toward an entire soul transformation.

Their friends are astonished.

They think back to all of the times this song has been played, what it has said to them, moved them, to learn its produced work from their friend, unreleased to the world.

Their friend can play at any venue they want in the city.

They are talented, innovative, and have all the community’s support.

This work of theirs is their life.

Yet they have a platform that collects dust.

A platform they rocketed to but left people scratching their heads as to how.

So it seems there is more being concealed than just a song.

They sit with years of understanding, ups, and downs.

But on record, it’s silence.

This line of thought reminds me of that spiderman quote:

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

Now to press pause on the story and turn up the volume on this: democratizing access to hope is essential for our progress as a species.

“Do unto others as you would have done unto you.”

Returning to our beloved DJ/revealed-to-be-a-producer, what begins to happen as this artist starts to reveal their work is a series of discussions and progressive execution.

Now, they are beginning to showcase the building blocks to how the song came about—the process of navigating trauma.

They are now speaking to their friends openly about trauma.

They reveal a little more.

They begin to disclose how their secrecy was self-interested and protective – they feared that they’d be forgotten if anyone could make anything like them.

Abandoned. They’d have no value.

Now their friends can hear it in the notes. Now the song is even more impactful for them.

This artist is doing something they would surely want to be done for them.

They’re giving access to hope. They’re giving attainable, measurable, objective access to a state of optimism actualized.

They’re showing their friends how they made the sounds, the inspiration, the process they underwent to create the moments that left hairs raised on their necks.

The producer gets more comfortable with the result of their actions. By disclosing and documenting their process, suddenly, they’re helping people.

They’ve created a live stream. They’ve started teaching lessons.

They start to talk about why they didn’t show others how they were able to achieve credibility within the local music community.

They start to produce events and shows and give everyone the same ability to share their story.

They give it a theme: this one is for the wellness of others.

Again, the one song was their lived experience. Was their narrative.

Look at how it has unfolded!

It went from something only they would benefit from to something that guides others.

We want to help steer people toward a better experience.

There’s accountability in the human condition that sometimes seems to get lost.

What’s funny is this story is true (for the most part.)

There are scores of persons who sit in positions of privilege who do not wield it in a way that advances us as a whole.

When we were a species fighting large creatures to survive, how do you think we advanced?

Those with the position shared their wisdom, and the species moved forward. We learned how to defend ourselves.

Do you ever ask someone for advice?

If we seek counsel, we ought to give counsel whenever we can.

I cherish my mentors and pay tribute to my guides.

If we do not share our gems with the world, then the shine of the Earth will be nothing more than a figment of our reality and imagination.

Sharing individual personal stories is critical because that is more likely to ring true to someone’s heart than a generalized message.

We will learn more about how to be well when we see how personalized the path is to us.

Learning about the internal triumphs and pitfalls of our fictitious DJ/Producer turned community builder hits the core of their supposed community far more significant than some generalized textbook or AP news article.

Today’s column is titled privilege because it is a privilege to live a life that is well. That is full of success and learnings that foster positive development. That is supported and loved.

What a waste if that is squandered.

I have significant privilege as, though part of the LGBTQIA+ community, otherwise I am a white male who has never fallen into poverty (well, I’ve gone bankrupt once but had a family safety net to catch me. Again, privilege.)

I have a privilege in this world as someone who has dug so deeply into their psyche, moved through multiple forms of trauma, and overcome an array of mental health challenges, as someone who sees how things can be better.

I have the privilege as someone who boldly can say they healed from what many believed wasn’t possible, being bipolar disorder. A severe and damning label is no longer true after nine years of intensive work. It’s gone off of my active record.

I could choose to hide away in my room and write about, well, none of which I’ve now come to write 26 volumes of.

I have written about this today to pose a couple of questions:

Do you understand your privilege in the world, and if you have it, do you understand what you can do to use it in a way that will help others?

Is it a privilege of money? Of lived experience? Of creation? It could be a mount built upon a myriad of things.

If you have a coveted stance on our planet and you grow aware of it:

Are you using it to help?
About the Author

Photo: Sumit Dhungel

A dance music producer, singer, and songwriter, Alex Wagner’s production career includes releases on Atlantic Records, Big Beat Records, and more.

As a crisis counselor for Crisis Text Line and certified peer counselor with the state of Washington, he has organized multiple mental health awareness events called “Grooving for Good” leveraging the power of music and the arts. He currently resides in Seattle, Washington. You can follow him on Instagram at @asinglewave.