Podcast S1 | Ep. 6: Air Guitars and a Useless Monk

In the season 1 finale of Good and Decent, Javi pitches an idea to Josh and Sara: A group of air guitarists in Boston have something in common with a cloistered monk in Kentucky. Confused but intrigued by this contrasting pair, the three hit the road for their first post-pandemic road trip…and their first time working together as a trio in person! They set out to discover what it is that connects these seemingly disparate people.

Along the way, they discuss the meaning of life — is it always and only about what we produce in the world? Our work is important, surely, but isn’t there something more to life? Both our air guitar friends and Brother Paul Quenon seem to have a deep-down joy that doesn’t come from work. For the former, the joy of playing an instrument that doesn’t exist speaks to delighting in spontaneity. For Br. Paul, as he puts it, “The purpose of art is art itself.” Br. Paul lives a self-proclaimed “useless” life. And for the commuters in Boston watching the air guitar troupe rock out on the subway, they may also conclude that it is a fairly useless act. 

When something is truly use-less, having no apparent “use,” it is done for the sake of itself. Br. Paul describes that there’s a freedom in that. Both playing air guitar and praying as a monk develop a kind of interior life. It’s not about making anything, it’s about being. “Being is more important than doing,” Br. Paul reminds us. His antidote for overactive “doing”? Meditation, and leading a contemplative life. As season 1 of Good and Decent comes to an end, join Javi, Josh, and Sara on the road down to Kentucky as they ask the big questions.

What in your life is use-less? Is there anything you do for the joy of it and nothing else? Can we truly find deeper meaning in simply being and not doing?


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