At the moment that these words are being delivered to the blogosphere, I will be in an airplane headed for Fort Lauderdale to take part in the South Florida Folk Festival. I am one of twelve finalists competing in the songwriting competition taking place on Saturday morning. Just three and half hours after leaving the northern, winter-clenched landscape, I’ll be touching down in what will feel to me like a summery paradise.
“It’s a small world after all…”
I remember singing those words as a kid and thinking, “Small?! Are you serious?!” Upon entering fourth grade, even my new school felt huge to me after leaving the three-room schoolhouse in Hebron where I’d completed first and second grades. After learning in high school that the radius of the Earth is 3,959 miles, I felt dwarfed ever still.
196.9 million square miles is a whole lot of planet.
And yet… I learned. Eventually.
Last Monday, Shawn and I were the featured performers at The Cantab Lounge’s weekly open mic night in Cambridge, MA. A likely place as any to reconnect with a new friend, a musician from Colorado whom I’d met at Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in New York last summer, now living in Beantown.
Many people over the years have asked me, “Why aren’t you in New York
or something? You should be famous!”
A very kind and generous sentiment.
I have to admit, a part of me has long been drawn to that idea, to living the life of the struggling artist lost in the sea of faces in the big city. In a lot of ways though, I’m already floating along that river of fellow songwriters and performers, sometimes paddling upstream it seems, booking a lot of my own gigs, pounding that proverbial pavement. I appreciate more and more the steady gigs I have here at home, and even more the deep, peaceful silence of living in the remote mountains of New Hampshire. I like the idea of being lost in these woods, content with a comfortable and simple life and few responsibilities.
There is, however, a darker side to this desire: I struggle with low self esteem, with a feeling of not deserving success or even happiness, and, even more strongly, with a desire to hide and to not be noticed.
Slowly, though, as I extend my reach a little further out into what can sometimes feel like a big scary world, I am shedding the hefty baggage that I’ve carried all these years and embracing, rather than running from, the warm glow of recognition that the musician’s life offers.
When I get off the plane in Fort Lauderdale, I’ll be greeted by my host, whom I’ve not yet met, and be driven to the festival where I’ll be greeted again by many familiar faces, gathered from various points, whom I’ve met in my travels in the last couple of years.
I even got an unexpected message from a woman who lives in Fort Lauderdale whom I met in New Orleans and is excited to see me.
This big beautiful world gets smaller every day but no less beautiful. I find that I’m having a lifelong, on-and-off love affair with this shrinking world and learning to open my arms and my heart to it just a little bit more every day. One of these days, I’ll be head over heels. As Oliver Wood sang, “I want my fall to last.”