I used to travel around with a band, in a van, all over the country. In the five years of owning that van, we put on 500,000 miles — 100,000 a year, which averages out to 275 miles a day, every day, for five years straight.
But of course, since there were some days we were home, and others when we would play multiple days in one place, so the actual average number of miles driven on the days we drove was a whole lot higher than that. Like the time we had to make it from Seattle to Huntsville, Alabama, in 39 hours. That’s 2,500 miles in a day and half. The next day after that, we had to drive another 775 miles to get to the next gig. But that’s another story.
You might not imagine it, but when we were in the van driving around, it was mostly quiet, other than the road noise from the highway. Oh, sure, we talked and laughed a bunch and pointed out things we saw along the way, but mostly we sat in silence, in our own thoughts and prayers.
After what we’ve just been through, however, and with what we are told still lies ahead, 2020 will probably shoot to the top of the list of most memorable year ever — which clearly is not the same as most cherished year ever.
One of the things we did to keep ourselves occupied, as a group activity, was to dissolve clouds. Just what I said. It’s something we became quite proficient at. We would pick a cloud out in the sky and all stare at it. Gradually but surely it would get smaller and less dense until it was gone. I can’t tell you how, or what was going on inside everyone’s head, because we didn’t discuss it; no one was interested in anyone else’s process; we just did it. And we picked out some big ones, too!
I was reminded of that this morning, after going through a back-and-forth exchange with a business associate with whom I am currently and actively involved on a project. It had become apparent, in our last couple of communications and correspondences, that there was tension between us during the process of getting to know each other’s style in order to bring the project to completion. We had reached a point where we needed to come to a consensus.
And the ball was in my court.
I decided that the best thing for my mental health, and for my creative self, too, was to speak clearly and truthfully from my heart regarding what I felt about the project, how I saw it going, or at least how I hoped it could go. Maybe that sounds obvious, but sometimes it’s a matter of tact, caution and professionalism. And also, because it takes time and effort, or at least it takes me time and effort to plunge into my heart, sort out my thoughts and feelings, and write it down in an eloquent way. By the end of the day, the other person replied back with equal energy, enthusiasm and relief. And with that, the energy between us was gone!
I now realize the value of those exercises we did back in that van; dissolving the water vapor clouds floating high above the ground was preparation for the real work: dissolving clouds of illusion, indifference, uncertainty, distrust, exhaustion and fear.
"...in our personal lives we place all sorts of artificial limitations on ourselves by framing things as either/or and convincing ourselves it’s one or the other."
I used to think it was a matter of using one’s imagination to bring about results in the physical realm — for those clouds, sure enough, were there and then they weren’t. I associated imagination with mind, with brain and with head, but after what I witnessed and felt today, I now know that dissolving clouds also involves the heart.
May this column serve to nudge you to take the time and make the effort to open your heart and sort out your thoughts and feelings, and articulate them with words that may penetrate and dissolve the clouds that would block out the light and the love between us.
"One such lesson that I have had to re-learn many times over, and which I thought I had a handle on until it reared its head again earlier this week, involves the relationship between mountains and molehills..."
"Those relationships and those shared episodes are the treasures of a lifetime, and when I envision where I want to be and what I want to be doing – a year, or five or 10 or however many years from now..."