I’m sitting in the living room on a cloudy day listening to Bill Mize’s incredible acoustic guitar CD ‘Tender Explorations’ and feeling grateful to my nearly-three-year-old Mason for his bird feeder obsession. Because he loves the feeders (yes, the feeders, not so much the birds), we have several hanging, stuck to windows, etc. The birds they attract are a lovely bit of company, especially the hummingbirds. Those agile aerialists fly faster than fighter jets, or so I heard on a radio quiz show a few weeks ago. They bring much more productive gifts, though.
When we lived in Australia I was constantly amazed at the diversity and splendor of their birds. Cockatoos, kookaburras and rainbow lorikeets would stop by daily, and we lived in the ‘burbs, not in a rainforest. They were glorious, and I never got used to them.
But I remember clearly shortly after coming home — I was in my parents’ home in Black Mountain the first time I saw a hummingbird come to a feeder. Soon after that I saw an electric red cardinal swoop in and land on a branch. I hadn’t seen either for the whole time we were abroad, and the squirrels doing their acrobatic routines… I had to stop seeing them at all for a while in order to really see them. I still miss the lorikeets, but I’m sure enjoying our own native fauna today.
That’s how it was in the early years of my marriage with Deanna, too. I would sometimes spend five or six weeks on tour. We would burn up the cell phone minutes, talking several times a day, but there’s nothing like being there, and it was hard. When I came home, though, we would both set everything else aside and just spend time together. I still maintain that we had more ‘quality time’ then than most couples, in spite of my rigorous travel schedule. We ‘saw’ and valued each other because of the absence.
Now, of course, things are much different. Deanna and I handled that lifestyle pretty well, but it’s not fair to ask that of a three-year-old, his mom, or, frankly, his dad. There’s no way I could handle that much time away from Mason. He changes daily, and I don’t want to miss it. Not just because I want to be a responsible dad, which I do, but because it would drive me crazy just because of my own selfish desire to hang around him, to share in, guide and witness his unfolding.
So it is a fascinating time. As I start to spend more time on the road again, I have chosen to structure it quite differently. It’s all a work in progress, and we’ll be dialing it in as we go. The plan, though, is that I will travel on weekends, driving or flying out, and I will be home during the week. I’m a bit surprised to see that I’m traveling every weekend for the next seven weeks, and that may be followed by a quick trip to Guatemala.
The full calendar snuck up me a bit, and it’s going to be a challenging stretch, but it’s also really exciting. It’s always a pleasure to share music with people, and to lead some conversations about things that I think matter regarding peace, social justice and creativity. Some of these events are particularly powerful for me, though. Performing with Pete Seeger in NYC on 9/11 is quite an honor, needless to say. I’m also deeply moved to be invited to Joplin, Missouri to perform for that community in a concert for healing from the tornado damage they suffered. And keynoting the Art of Peace conference in Tyler, Texas, and a youth weekend in Georgia. It’s deeply affirming that the phone keeps ringing. Thanks for being interested in what I’m working on these days, which I guess I can assume you are if you’re reading this far.
And when I’m gone for just a weekend, it does make for a sweet homecoming, both with Deanna and Mason. Much to be grateful for.
I hope our paths will cross somewhere along these meanderings. These shows don’t make a smooth arc of touring these days. More like a hummingbird than a crow. So be sure to check the calendar to see if I’ll be near you, and if you’d like to set something up, by all means, drop a note.