Since deeper topics are evading my thought-life, I guess I'll make this an introduction to the shape of my practical life as it currently stands. If I stray off topic a little it's because I'm trying to find some sort of rhythm. I'm trying to write from the heart.
I live in a small apartment in Seattle with my wife of almost four years. Her name is Kristie. Sometimes we look at each other with disbelief and say, "I can't believe we're married," and, "I can't believe its been 4 years." Mostly we just feel blessed to be able to look at each other and know that there is no one else we'd rather be spending our life with. Sometimes we feel old because time flies, and sometimes we feel young because we don't act like a typical married couple. We fight and love and do things best friends do.
When I have time off from touring, I work part time at a catering company. It gets me out of bed in the morning, and it feeds me breakfast. Recently, they've decided to cut costs by stopping production of sandwiches for delivery drivers like myself. Because of that, I don't know how much longer I'll work there. I'm more motivated by food than money. I've never been afraid of being poor, but sometimes I'm afraid of being hungry. When I get back from "work" I try to hit the "studio" for a bit. This means writing and tracking demo's for The Classic Crime, or whoever else wants things done. I have about thirty square feet of space in the corner of our bedroom for my "studio," which consists of a desk, two monitors, a laptop, a Digi 002 console, various Pro-Tools plugins and whatever instruments I'm working with (usually my Strat, Martin, and Fender Princeton 65). For anyone who knows gear, I sing through a MXL V69 tube mic to make demos, it was relatively cheap and I like it. This part of my day is what keeps me sane, gives me purpose, allows me to be creative. Without music I'd probably have an emotional break down. I also have emotional break-downs when I have to work nine-to-five jobs... other than that I'm pretty emotionally steady.
Most people think being in a band and selling over seventy thousand records means that you are paying the bills. The truth is, without my wife and her hard work, I'd be surfing a dirty couch somewhere until I wore out my welcome. I'm thankful for her vision and sense of purpose. It inspires me daily.
At around five o'clock every day I go to pick up Kristie from work. She works close and could walk home, but I've made a habit of picking her up since by that time I'm done with the studio work. My major household job when I'm home is shopping for food, planning meals and cooking them. I love to cook, so this is hardly a job for me. I usually make extra and pack it up for Kristies lunch the next day.
Someone might read this and surmise that I am lazy. You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but I will defend myself by saying there has been nothing more challenging in my life than the pursuit of music. Throughout the years I have felt unchallenged in school and at work. I floated through both of them very carelessly while maintaining high marks. My only motivation to succeed was simply to impress my peers. It was petty competition. That is until I went after my goals in music full-heartedly. I never really understood back then what the pursuit of this dream would cost me. For years we slept in a van at rest stops and Wal-Mart parking lots. For years we were hungry and cold and never received a paycheck (we still don't). We put our time in as vagabonds at best, traveling from city to city each night, trying to capture the attention of any present persons heart with our music. At times we were at our wits end, completely broke and in debt, wondering if this is really the path we want to take. Many of us had jobs at home waiting for us, with family and security waiting in the wings. The promise of a normal life. But deep down I know that this is not merely something I want to do, this is something I must do. This is my calling. So I have sacrificed financial security, spent months living out of my backpack, and spilled literal blood, sweat and tears in the pursuit of it. We are outcasts to society, living on the fringe and in the margins. Nobody sees how we live, we come at night to entertain and we're gone by first light. We are viewed by those older than us as kids chasing dead end dreams. They encourage us to go back to school, to get real jobs, to stop living in fantasy land. It's true we live in limbo between "reality" and "make believe," but I struggle to see which is which. I just know that they're opposite. Its us and them. Are we the crazy ones? As the author and human rights activist Shane Claiborne says, "We have to remind each other that we are not crazy, or that if we are crazy, at least we are not alone." And we are not alone, there is a whole sub-culture of bands who do what we do, and it's comforting to be able to relate to fellow troubadours on the road. To the kids who come to the shows we are heroes, and perhaps that is the most rewarding thing, however skewed their perception may be. To them we have made it, we are living "the dream." Looking back now, I suppose it is all very dream-like.
So why do I do it? What practical thing would compel me to endure such a ragged lifestyle? It's true, it's not just the dream that keeps me alive, it's the reach of God through music in the hearts of people who are open to it. It's the girl who approaches me timidly at a show and with tears in her eyes tells me horrible things that have happened to her. She bares her heart to me of all people, an undeserving stranger. A nobody. Then she says that one of our songs had helped her through it all. As she sang along to every word she felt the pain of her experiences lift off of her, and today she can smile again. When this happens to me, as it does infrequently, I am completely humbled. My needs for comfort, for financial security and a predictable future all wash away. All of my petty worries dissipate. I am hit with the true importance of what we do. I am reminded that there is no better reason to do anything in life than the reason of giving hope to a hurting heart, and I am blessed beyond belief to be doing that work. After such encounters, the small hardships of the road seem to get smaller, and as a result they do little to dissuade me.
I love Jesus, as most people do who read the things He said and did. Unfortunately I'm not very much like Him at all. I have major issues with pride. Being a vocalist I can sometimes like the sound of my own voice and talk too much. Sometimes I look back with regret at certain interactions I've had with people. I have an affinity for books, movies, games, extreme sports, drugs and alcohol, or anything that will take me out of my natural mind for awhile. Sometimes I lie awake at night in bed and wonder if this is it. If this is my life and I am missing it because I'd rather turn my brain off, or distract it with games on my iPhone or a beer or a movie. Sometimes I fear that I have no idea how to live when I'm home, when the mission is over and we are forced to wait until the next tour. The only time I feel alive is when I'm talking about God or music, and then I think what do people do who don't have music? Or God?
Great, I've just discovered my next topic.