My Aunt Carol and Uncle Bill live on a hill above the town of Seeley Lake, Montana. Part of my high school graduation present was coming to visit them in the mountains. The other gift was a burned CD with one song on it: "If You Want to Sing Out" by Cat Stevens. If you've never heard it, these are the opening lines:
If you want to sing out, sing out
And if you want to be free, be free
'Cause there's a million things to be, you know that there are.
I judge myself, a lot. I get wrapped up in what the eyes of others must be seeing. I fall into expectations, real and invented. I bend and sway and I hem and haw over what is right and who to follow.
I've done a lot of that with this tour. It seems that every time I would explain to someone that I was taking off for a month to drive around the west with a carful of instruments, paltry few booked shows, my best friend, and a whole lot of faith, my words would get all clunky and my cheeks hot and flushed. Ahhhhhh what are you thinking about me? What does that eyebrow twitch mean? Or that lip curl? Ugh it's maddening and paralyzing.
Abby and I have both felt this a lot. How do we explain to people what we're doing? How do we seem "legit"?
At the house concert we played at my Aunt and Uncle's home, however, all those anxieties melted away. The mountains behind the back window reflected the hues of the sunset. The vibrant energy of her "Friday Night" crew of friends, bedecked in wild wigs with plentiful wine in hand, enlivened us. They danced and spun and whooped and hollered. One of the partygoers, Mark, even brought out his guitar. We played Dueling Banjos, but with a piano and a guitar.
This is what it's all about. The reveling, the joy, the dancing-without-a-care. Being who you are truly called to be, and creating a space where EVERYONE is free to be who they are called to be.
And over and over again, the folks we talked to just got what we were doing. They understood. They told us how happy it makes them to see us taking a huge risk and pursuing something that we love. And they told us that this moment in our lives is exactly the time for following passions.
The next day, we hiked to a waterfall with my Aunt and Uncle and their dog Anduin, learned about trees, saw the oldest Larch in the US (1000 years old!!), and kayaked down the Blackfoot River. We sang a song that goes:
Lay yourself down on the rocks now
Let your body down in the River
Listen to the drumming on the other side
Lose yourself in the meantime
As we plunged ourselves into the frigid waters, and a bald eagle soared high overhead. And with each passing moment, we remembered that here, right exactly here, in this exact moment is where we are supposed to be. Nowhere else.
At dinner, my Aunt and Uncle told stories about their 20s, their times of meandering. My Uncle calls it his "walkabout". We talked of the winding road of life, how it twists and turns and doubles back, how it's both rocky and smooth, steep and level. As long as you find the path that is yours, stripping away the words of others and looking deep in your heart, the road affords the most spectacular of views.
After dinner, Abby and I took our steaming mugs full of tea out to the backyard to look at the silhouette of Douglas fir and the Swan Range against a half moon sky, Cassiopeia just overhead and the lights of Seeley Lake below. We may not be able to explain to anyone what this adventure is about. We may not even know what it's about ourselves. But I'll wager that sharing the winding road with a dear friend and kindred spirit is part of it. I'll get back to you in 40 years, maybe I'll know more by then.