The mattress I am sleeping on is indented, making me roll to the middle and discouraging stomach sleeping (my preferred nocturnal position). It is raining in rural Jersey, a dog is barking somewhere and it is 2:34am. The New England leaves are stupid beautiful right now and the temperature is ideal for my German/Irish/Nordic stock – light jacket weather. This is my second tour back on the road.
Tour can be disorienting, especially these week long whirlwinds – there is barely enough time to adjust to the time change, bipolar energy levels, fleeting moments on stage and epic car rides, new hosts, new beds, new kitchens to navigate, new bathrooms to find in the dark.. the uncertainty of resources and income takes its own particular toll as well, especially at this time. The shows in many ways are a wonderful homecoming; back in the groove, back to what I know how to do, the craft I have honed to its current level, acknowledgment from those who have been with me these 10 months, facing crowds of knowing eyes.. Being fully present on and off stage takes more energy, I am finding, but also has greater returns. I am a little dazed, and possessed by contemplation of this path I have evidently chosen without a wisp of a doubt.. When did I, the awkward kid with a stutter who did anything to stay under the radar, friend of the geeks and the underdogs, decide I was going to write songs and sing them in front of crowds of people and attempt to entertain and engage with them in a public setting?? Stage presence has not come easy to me and banter is still a major source of anxiety, yet I never questioned my choice of career path. I just suffered through the nerves and tried to figure out how to get better at it. It didn’t really feel like a choice at all, I don’t remember a conscious decision, I just kept walking in that direction, perhaps a little zombie-like. I look around and realize I am doing what I wanted to be doing, that I actually am that person I hoped I might be, warts and all. It’s a good thing I worked my ass off on letting go of the details of my aspirations, a torture I very consciously work to avoid (present tense). Braving the uncertain and shifting industry of music performance – economic churning seas, complete with whirlpools, sea monsters, icebergs and pirates – does not necessarily suit my worry-prone melancholic addictive constitution, but I am intuiting that by far, most of my fellows feel the same woes. One’s line of work, intensely personal and even spiritual as it is, remains dependent on the state of the outer world and community, no matter how autonomous we would like to feel. Everyone falls somewhere on the spectrum of passion to pragmatism; the steepest consequences reserved for those out on the poles. The quality of the work available is hopelessly dependent on our (mostly unconscious) community consensus. Unfortunately we are in it together, what we value will determine what we work for, and therefore, the tenor of our days. Here’s to trudging the road to happy destiny, and I say that with resolution and informed optimism. With true entrepreneurial spirit, I will go out to the marketplace with faith and hawk my wares.
It is reeeally late now, and tomorrow we see family and play in Philly. I feel like I have all this potential energy, kinetic creativity, building up and waiting for some spark of confidence or something to initiate its flow.. I don’t know what I’m waiting for, I yearn to write new songs, a book, an essay, something, I don’t know what, but I want to make something.. I wouldn’t call it a writer’s block, I think it would be more accurately described as a transition from creation as coping mechanism to creation as conscious expression. It’s the old artist’s saw – what do you write about when you aren’t in pain? How does one create from a place of balance? Why does one create from a place of balance? I am used to employing my excess emotional momentum to fling the work out, and its effect was more cathartic than anything else. Now that I am no longer in a state from which I need to cope, what do I have to say?