Mojo, Motivation, and the Magic of Music

After a short burst of accomplishing small tasks that I had put off for months, the thought that maybe I’d gotten my mojo back popped into my head.  My very next thought was – what the heck IS mojo, anyway? So, off to Google I went in search of the meaning of mojo. Google came up with over Forty MILLION results for the query ‘what is mojo?’  OH, Boy. (This is how I usually get distracted).

One straightforward definition of mojo offered three distinct meanings involving a magic charm or spell, “an amulet… worn by adherents of hoodoo or voodoo,” and a type of personal magnetism.  What interested me more than the meanings was the etymology:  [Perhaps from Fula moco’o: medicine man] But, etymology didn’t help me with the search for what mojo really is. The entry I looked up offered additional information of mojo as a spicy Cuban seasoning. I did not explore the Oxford English dictionary, as my intention was not to learn more about the etymology or any historic use of the term. If I have lost my mojo, how in the heck do I get it back? So far, I had not discovered an acceptable answer. I had only investigated two out of forty million results.

I decided to try other links in the first few pages of results and see what turned up. The ‘mojo boost’ was akin to Viagra and the Straight Dope only provided a dictionary definition and then bashed both blues musicians and Jim Morrison, Mr Mojo Risin’. Isn’t Roadhouse Blues among the best Doors songs ever?

A post from 2009 on the blog, Owning Pink , offered some insight regarding mojo and is perhaps the meaning nearest to what I envision as mojo; the 2010 post at one powerful word was similar, and slightly more helpful.  However, the luckymojo page offered information on the hoodoo influences and blues music references behind the term, ‘mojo.’ Indeed, if you are interested in constructing a mojo bag to increase your luck, strength, wealth, or love, you can find some instructive information on the lucky mojo web site.  However, this line of searching took me down a path of distraction. Perhaps I focused too much on what Google had to say about mojo.

My burning question remained: ‘how do you know if (or when) you have lost your mojo?’ Conversely, how can you tell when you get it back? So, I began to think I needed a definition for myself because mojo isn’t the same for everyone, and how I define it might help me locate mine – that is, if, in fact, I had truly lost it.

It seems, from time to time, that our enthusiasm for activities, hobbies, interests, or even our passions wanes.  Life brings changes: friends with shared interests move away, loved ones pass on, our focus shifts, work becomes more demanding, or we get stuck in a funk of our own melancholic making.  In the midst of change a sense that the universe is out of sync (or that we are out of sync with the universe) arises and we find ourselves languishing in the doldrums. We have no prevailing wind with which we can sail our ship.  We might be tempted to wax nostalgic for an earlier time when life was in sync, the universe sang beautifully and in the most harmonious key for us, and it seemed that nothing could stop our forward momentum (or take the wind out of our sails).

But going back to an earlier time just isn’t possible, and perhaps a return to an earlier point in our life would efface lessons life has taught us. After having spent more time than I intended investigating how other people define ‘mojo,’ including the etymological roots of the term and the connections to hoodoo and spiritualism, I still have the question: what happened to my mojo?  I realized I erroneously thought that at one time I had some kind of magic, or mojo that kept my inspiration or motivation going. I don’t think magic has anything to do with what motivates me. Unless music is magic.

While many people believe in making mojo bags for luck, among other things, a talisman or trick bag won’t provide my intrinsic desire to engage in the activities, interests, and passions that make my life meaningful. Perhaps because what I seek can only be defined by the user, me, the Google search may have been both unnecessary and distracting.

However, while searching Google, I found something unexpected: side-trip music links.  I spent quite a lot of time listening to some of my favorite music genres: rock, blues, jazz. Music has a magic all its own to motivate and move us.  Somehow, in the last couple of years, I stopped listening to music daily. Not just to music, but to my inner voice as well. If music is my mojo, I haven’t lost it at all; I simply stopped listening.  Now, I’m not a practiced musician, but I like to sing and I often dance in the kitchen (and sometimes I even go out dancing).

Music transcends the ordinary. Live music brings people together (my musician friends know this better than I do).  I miss those friends even though I’ve kept in touch through social media. Other things have crowded out music for me lately, but I’m not going to name them for that would give those things power.

If a lesson can be found in this rambling post, it might be this: sometimes what we are searching for hasn’t really gone; we just stopped listening.

So I’m going to spend some time listening to my inner voice – the true source of my mojo. And, while I’m at it, I’ll listen to some delicious ear candy: 


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