To whomever broke in and robbed us while we slept the night of June 12th—

I’m really scared that we were sound asleep in a private residence while you pried and squeezed your way through locked French doors and back out again—and in a country with 400 million guns on the ground, it terrifies me to think what could have happened if you had woken us up and we had stumbled out, half asleep, and found you there with our belongings in your hands. Who knows—maybe the earplugs we were wearing to block out the noises of the air conditioning and the Quarter saved our lives that night.

I am so angry that we have to replace so many things, and some expensive things, too. And I’m so torn up about the irretrievable song ideas and writing I had been working on since we left home. And you made off with a bunch of cash that we worked our asses off to earn. And every hour for the first couple of days, in pangs of sorrow and rage, I remembered yet another thing that is now forever out of my reach—my datebook planner, and all the handwritten notes in it; my COVID vaccination card; my Charlie Brown Christmas cloth mask; my favorite cloth napkin from Ten Thousand Villages; my little birding binoculars; the laminated four leaf clover given to me a few years ago by a fan after a show in New Jersey; the tiny composition notebook and pencil I used for communication when I had laryngitis back in 2019; one of my old Maine driver’s licenses, depicting a 20-something-year-old-me, one of the very few photos I had of that period in my life.

I’m also really disappointed with myself for being as upset as I am about material things. Our situation could be so much worse—Shawn or I could be fighting for life, just as our friend Leslie’s husband is at this very moment in a New Orleans hospital after being shot in a home invasion last month.

Most of all, though, I’m just really heartbroken—not just for our losses, but for you and for the world that you and I share.

That heartbreak led me to this place of curiosity, and I started to wonder if you’re a young kid, trying to prove yourself to older peers, or if you’re a junkie, desperate to feed your addiction.

I get that. My life has been touched in some way by these things, too. I shoplifted a few times when I was in junior high, trying to appear cool to a group of kids that I briefly thought I wanted to be part of. I grew up with an alcoholic parent, and I struggled with my own drinking until I gave it up in 1997. And I’ve experienced a brief brush with the horrors of opioid addiction, once when I had my wisdom teeth out in 2001, and again when I had a kidney stone in 2003. I didn’t even enjoy the feeling of the hydrocodone or the oxy, but some part of me craved each one terribly. It’s the way I’m wired. I can’t even keep potato chips in the house.

Believe me, though, it took me a while to find and remember this place of empathy. In the hours after we woke up that Monday morning, I was pacing around, trembling, jumping at every little unfamiliar noise, yelling at you, swearing, calling you names. Because I was angry and scared. And sometimes I still am.

And still—I wish you well. With all my heart, racing as it is, I do. I really do.

And I wonder if you’d laugh at this or roll your eyes. I wonder if you’d call me a fool or an easy mark. I get that, too. It sounds like some bullshit, right? ‘Hey, person who robbed me—I want you to be happy.’

But I really do wish this. I want the same things for you that I want for myself, and for every person on this planet—to be well and safe and free from suffering.

I am also really grateful, too. I’m typing these words on a device that you didn’t steal along with the rest. We are now in a safe, secure place with full bellies and our instruments and the means to continue on. We’ve been in close contact nearly constantly with friends and family who have been offering unconditional love and support.

And this feeling of gratitude, of knowing that there are people who have our backs no matter what—I really do know how lucky we are to have that. And I really want you to have that, too.

Believe it or not, I don’t want to punish you. Yes, I called the cops, because I was angry and scared—and really, I just want our stuff back. But if the cops figure out that you did this, they will punish you.

And please know this—this world you and I live in right now, where you have to steal shit to meet your needs and I have to call people with guns who want to put you in a cage to meet my needs—this is not the world I want. I want a world where justice is about restoration and not retribution, where everyone works with whatever skills they have toward a world where no one has a reason to steal from anyone ever again.

And I am willing to bet that this is the same world you want, too.

In time, we will replace many of the things that you took from us. Some, of course, are gone forever. And yeah, for some terrifying hours, you shattered our sense of safety and security, and our hope. But we still have our lives, our empathy, and our willingness to continue working towards that better world. And in a life so short and precious, those really are the only things I want.