A little bit of shameless friend promotion here.
This is the newest single by Morning Bear, a band fronted by one of my very best friends in the world. They are now on tour on the West Coast, followed by Iceland and Europe this fall.
I’m in Bittersweet Coffee in downtown Louisville, for the moment. For the moment.
It’s a hard thing, to be a creative person. It’s hard to find and retain one’s voice. To trust oneself enough to believe that it’s good enough and not cut things short unnecessarily. To work the hours needed to hone a craft. I’m going to follow John’s bravery and make a small, deeply scary personal creative announcement:
I’m working on a novel.
It’s terrifying to put that out there. I’ve actually been working on it for almost a year. .
I haven’t been writing here for quite some time. Maybe since London. I just haven’t. Things got hard, and honestly I began to doubt my abilities and process. Why do this long-form blog thing in 2017, when everyone and their mom has Instagram (#travel #travelling #traveltravel #travelme #instafamous #nofilter #fml #waithowdoyoustophashtags #waitseriouslyguysimstuck #HELP)?
Why write at all when it’s not like I have anything important to say? Or when everything is shit? Many people were pissed off at 2016, calling for it to just stop its shittiness in the waning months when a job in Busan took over my every waking moment and 50% of my sleeping ones. More than 50%. I read the other day that most psychotic breaks seem to be related directly to insomnia. I’m not sure I didn’t have one in March, to be honest. I can’t seem to call up that month very well in memory.
2017 has felt like I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop since January.
BUT. But. I’ve been told that this kind of horrible time is creatively productive. Maybe it is.
Morning Bear’s music for this release was mostly written in Iceland, which is where I lived all summer up to Thursday. On Wednesday, I leave for Vietnam. The lyrics of the songs capture what it is like to be a long-term nomadic creative person, and how it feels to be in Iceland and forlorn. I got a hefty dose of trademark Icelandic forlorness since August 11th, since the camp we lived on had to be closed for three weeks. 20 km from the nearest city and in the deepest silence I’ve experienced since Patagonia six years ago, it was hard not to succumb to deep dark thoughts like this one:
All along I had dreamed but it wasn’t real
But it wasn’t real
And if I could divine a reason why
Maybe it will set me free
Maybe it would set me free
And if i could just understand where I am meant to go
And why home doesn’t feel like home
How is a man to know?
– Traveling, Morning Bear (John Runnels)
I’ve had a fair bit of dreams that flew apart under the winds of life in the last few years. And home definitely doesn’t feel like home anymore. I feel like a foreigner in my ‘own’ country and as welcome here in Colorado as I do in any of my homes left trailing around the world. Which is to say, not particularly welcome.
John gave me a huge shout out at his single release party on Friday night. It was sheer chance that we got to see each other at all, but to see the release show and to hear the artist that this man I’ve known for my whole adult life has become was (don’t be mad, John) practically spiritual. It was like the music I could always hear around just him and his guitar, since the fall of 2007, appeared from the ether and surrounded him.
He called me out by name from the stage to thank me for working the merch desk, and talked about what it is that I do. About my teaching and travelling and how he thinks highly of me. People cheered. They cheered.
I felt vindicated. It’s been really hard in ways I’m not going to go into here, all summer. I’ve been questioning it all. All that travelling and teaching we do. This nomadic life my tiny family lives. The decisions to go, again. To make 2017 the sixth year in a row that I’ve spent on three continents. To go back to Vietnam and make it a home that doesn’t feel like home.
I don’t have a stage, but I do have this blog. Thank you for your music and for the acknowledgement, and most of all for the understanding. From one nomad to another, thank you for helping me to keep going.