I am sitting outside on the third floor of a Motel 6 just outside Joshua Tree, with a heart that feels just a little more expansive than it has for most of my time on the road this year. I don't know what I believe but I am ready to open and invite a little help. This is my one precious life and as much as I want to be home loving what I love, I also am determined to treasure the experiences I have out here. The air is perfect tonight - just a slight touch of cool, just a whisper of movement and dynamism. A "hey, come look at this!" whisper, as if it is about to reveal a tiny profundity, a small facet of a much, much greater whole.
I am glad to be having the conversations we are having, to be considering body image, and gender identity, and added layers of complexity that being queer in the black community involves, from perspectives I could never arrive at on my own, by my straight(ish) white self. I am glad to be thinking about the people I might get to catch up with along the way, in San Diego and Portland and Seattle.
I am always trying to figure out how to keep making music out of the deep love I have for it, how to walk the tightrope between striving and giving up. On one side there is the confidence to take risks and keep trying for big goals, but there is also disappointment and exhaustion and burnout. On the other there is a softness, a contentment in small pleasures, but also a closed door, a heart that doesn't want to be hurt again so it doesn't leave itself open to the space where the big goals are still possible and worth going after. Maybe I will always be navigating that, walking a thin line over a deep canyon in this way. Maybe one day I will stumble upon the secret that makes the balance come effortless and easy - probably not. Maybe one day I will fall with finality to one side or the other, fully committed. But I doubt this too. I think that who we are is shaped by what we do in the gray areas, the spaces between. How we respond to uncertainty, how we move forward when we are feeling tender and bruised, when life has let us down.
To be clear, the scales are tipped in my favor. There are many more ways life is not letting me down right now that the ways that it is, or that it has in the past. What I am asking for tonight, what I reach out toward the night wanting, is simply to open up a few stitches in the seam of whatever ragged fabric I have sewn around my heart and make a gap wide enough that just a little light and wisdom can reach in and comfort me. I want to remember just a few small ways the universe can be kind and supportive and recognize that energy where it is present in my life and invite a little more of it in. I still want what I have wanted my whole adult life - the ability to be JUST a musician, the freedom of that - but I am so deeply thankful for what I have that matters more - love. So much love. So many people I love. And the things that have been born out of the sacrifices I’ve made - adventure. Big, wild adventures. Presence. The ability to sit with something difficult, stare it in the eyes, and not look away. Acceptance. The ability to allow space for conflicting truths and qualities to exist side-by-side. And a little bit of wisdom I can speak into a quandary here and there, a thing or two I have learned and can pass on to the next pair of hands reaching out.
Feeling bittersweet tonight. Feeling grateful-sad. Missing big backyards with oak trees and fireflies and the innocence of believing it’s a hard lesson when a pet gerbil dies on your watch. But when things get so much harder, we have to learn to love ourselves through all of it. We have to find a way to continue loving the world, our messy hearts meeting all of its cruelty and saying to it, I know you can get better at this. Here, try again. Gentler this time. Always teaching each other how to love gentler, until finally we can be gentle with ourselves.