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Five Things: Civil Rights Attorney Dan Canon Is Still A Musician At Heart

Dan Canon
Scotty Perry

As an attorney, taking a case to the Supreme Court is about the highest goal one can aspire to — and then actually winning that case, and helping change the lives of millions of Americans? It's a huge achievement.

So what's a fellow to do next? If you're Dan Canon, it's make a run for Congress, while still maintaining a law practice, cooking for a growing family, and maybe picking up a guitar once in a while.

Dan's done plenty of interviews, but not many of them have been this personal. Listen in as he talks about what it's really like to run for office, what that tattoo on his arm means, and the tool he uses to stay in touch with his optimism.

On how he now thinks about the 10 years he spent as a professional musician:
"If you go through multiple career changes, and sort of live these multiple lives, like people do now that life expectancy is increasing and people are diversifying, finding new careers -- I mean, I don't know how to unmoor myself from the idea that I'm a musician. I could spend zero hours a week or zero hours a month at this point, at 40, playing guitar. I don't know the last time I picked up a guitar, it's probably been weeks ago. And it's weird, it alienates you from yourself because I still have this core that thinks of myself as being a musician, and all this other stuff is sort of a charade."

He's glad he ran for Congress, but it was really, really hard:
"Everything about running a campaign for public office at that level is very frustrating, very stressful. It's thankless, and it's expensive, and it keeps you away from your family, and it keeps you up nights, and it's like having three full-time jobs that you don't get paid for. And that's why the only people that tend to do it are very wealthy people or complete sociopaths. And there's a very small sliver of people out there who are dedicated public servants and will put themselves through a campaign like that, but most people, normal people, sane people are not going to put themselves through it — because, why would you?"

On his gratitude journal habit:
"One of the things that I try to do every day, in addition to the other obsessive, crazy things that I try to do every day, is to just jot down something that I'm grateful for. Just at least one thing. The major point is that it trains your brain to look for that stuff. So I'm going to search for things to be grateful for. And then over time, you start looking for them without being really conscious of it. It's something I recommend very highly, for that purpose alone. But the other thing is, if you are feeling particularly like s***, then you can go back and hopefully you have this big long list of things that you're grateful for, and you can read that list and remember."