Larry Jackson, the current Head of Content at Apple Music, joins Arianna Huffington on the Thrive Global Podcast, in partnership with iHeartRadio and Sleep Number. Together, they dive deep into a discussion about the importance of spirituality, asking life’s larger questions and maintaining one’s inner flame. 

The Apple executive, who’s held senior positions at major record labels like A&R and Interscope and has worked with top music talent — Chief Keef, Lana Del Rey, Drake, DJ Khaled and the late great Whitney Houston, to name a few — tells Huffington that creating boundaries and hitting pause on 24/7 busyness has the effect of protecting our inner flames. He notes that a windy current can easily snuff us out if we aren’t careful: “Metaphorically speaking, it’s a flame,” Jackson says. “So you’re burning, I’m burning, and we burn and sustain for whatever level of time we do in our lives. But a simple breeze or gust could really blow it out quite easily and… I’m hyper-aware of… protecting my own flame.”

Jackson says his friends have called him a “nerd” and “dork” for vigilantly presiding over his fire, but he attributes it to his enduring success: “I can go on and deal with people, hopefully, much longer at my age by protecting that.”

Realizing the ephemeral nature of life and the luck that his has afforded him, he asks Huffington: “Where is some wood to knock on? Because none of it is really promised and none of it I’m expecting.”

From there, the conversation moved to meditations on spirituality. When Huffington asks if he wonders if there’s “more to life than this,” Jackson confesses: “Yeah, I think about that every day, many times a day, actually.”

When Huffington probes deeper about where he lands on the question of a non-material dimension, Jackson thoughtfully replies: “I’m fascinated to know what the final thoughts will be, what the revelations will be, what the epiphanies will be. I think about it a lot. What is it all for? What can I do? What can I affect before I get to that stage?” While he notes that using the term “God” is “a tidy way to classify it,” he admits a belief “in a stronger, spiritual jet stream and undercurrent that’s carried us all through.”

Reflecting on his success and the fact that he is sitting in a room beside Arianna Huffington, being interviewed about his life, he’s suddenly awed: “Statistically, I shouldn’t be sitting here on this couch with you right now,” he poignantly observes. “I’m an African-American male who didn’t finish high school.” Huffington reminds Jackson that he did eventually earn his high school diploma — with honors no less. “I’m only stating it to say that there has to be a current of the spiritual sea that is carrying me through and protecting me to whatever destination I’m due to arrive at,” he says. “I’m curious to know what that is. But until then, I’m just going to keep writing chapters.”

To find out more, listen to the full conversation on iHeartRadio, here. You can also listen to the Thrive Global podcast internationally for free on iTunes.

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  • Stephanie Fairyington

    Contributing Writer at Thrive

    Stephanie Fairyington is a contributing writer at Thrive. A New York-based journalist, her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic (online), The New Republic (online), The Boston Globe, and several other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her spouse Sabrina and daughter Marty.