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It’s been exciting – and also challenging – to be back out in the world playing gigs. Like so many other folks, I’m figuring out my way through it all, trusting my two jabs, trusting every unmasked face, trusting my sources of information.

Shawn and I played our regular summer bar gig last Thursday night, which found us reuniting with an old dear friend (and some precious, fully vaxed hugs), making new pals, and meeting up with other folks that we haven’t seen since before COVID (hereafter referred to as B.C.).

On a set break, I spoke with someone I hadn’t seen in ages who was there with a group of friends, all smiles. She told me how great it was to experience live music again – and followed this with the phrase that’s been gnawing at me these last few days – ‘now that COVID is behind us.’

Immediately, I pushed back, though in a friendly way. ‘I’m not so sure about that. I think we are very much still in it.’

‘Well, yeah, you’re right,’ she admitted with a sigh.

I get it. Everyone is done with season 1 of ‘COVID-19 – The Pandemic’ and season 2 is dead on arrival. Everyone’s exhausted with news-cycle-whiplash. Everyone’s eager to put it all in the rear view mirror…

…except that it is always now – and right now, many of us are still suffering and dying from this terrible virus, and many of us are still wishing it weren’t so. The sources I trust, the sources to whom I have willingly outsourced my knowledge on this topic, are painting a worrisome picture, and no amount of wishful thinking will render it any less so. There is no canceling this thing. Right now, it is with us.

Only this breath, now, is certain – and yet, how certain is that? I can’t know when I will draw my last! And though I’ve been breathing the entire time I’ve been typing these words, and while washing the breakfast dishes and playing at River’s Edge Tavern, it is easy to forget that.

So for now, I’m taking the bookings, still imagining the squares on my calendars filling up with music and joy and connection with familiar and unfamiliar faces and hearts, and also accepting the uncertainty of it all – and trying to connect as fully as I can with as many breaths as possible in the meantime, and remembering to watch the goldfinches at the bird feeder, too.