Monday, June 18, 2012

on living extraordinarily

“We are human beings, for whom birth is a supremely welcome mystery: the mystery of growing, the mystery which happens only and whenever we are faithful to ourselves.” –e.e. cummings

 As you might have heard, I packed up my lil’ pink studio and left Philly at the end of May. Currently, I’m taking in a pristine view of pines, poplars and blue sky in northern Maine. Later this summer, I’ll be ping-ponging around Europe. I’ll still come through the northeast on tour (don’t worry your pretty heads), but I’m not sure whether I’ll be living there. I don’t know where I’ll be living after September (but I have a hunch. I’ll give you a hint: it’s my favorite place in the world).

 Why? You ask. Well, let me explain.

The worst thing about being an adult, by far, is the sense of obligation. I think in most cases, we don’t have very many real obligations, and the ones we do have (loving our spouses, feeding our kids, paying off our debts) were freely chosen (even if it doesn’t always feel that way). I, for one, have even fewer real obligations than your average bear. But I have plenty of imaginary ones.

 Imaginary obligations create a vague, creepy feeling that you can’t possibly stay home from work/go skydiving/move to New Orleans, because of an imaginary jury of disapproving people. In my case, the imaginary jury includes my fans, my manager, my band-mates, and some of my friends and family members. I’m not sure what would satisfy them, exactly, but it seems to include a constant supply of new songs, an ever-expanding fan base, and a tour itinerary wherein next month’s gigs are always more impressive than last month’s. So we keep ourselves from doing things we want to do – for example, packing up my house, taking the summer off from touring, and bouncing around the world for who knows how long – based on a set of assumptions about what an imaginary group of people would find appropriate.

 So, although I’ve been hankerin’ for a move for a while now, I didn’t think my jury would be in favor of that choice. But I’ve gone and done it, because here’s the God’s-honest truth: I am obligated to only one person, and it’s myself.

 Let me clarify. My purpose is to live an extraordinary life. And by living extraordinarily, and being vocal about the joy and magic I stir up, I aim to inspire others to live extraordinarily (whatever their version of extraordinarly living might look like).

 My version of extraordinary living, so far, includes lots of songwriting, performing, and making records. But it also includes pointless travel, spontaneous adventures, creative fits, hedonistic binges, friendships and love affairs of many varieties and durations, periods of selfless giving, periods of extreme solitude, periods of extreme creative passion, and, apparently, the occasional hermitage in Maine. And I’ll be candid, blog-readers: it very likely includes a move to New Orleans.

 If the songs come, they come because I have been living extraordinarily, and I have some noise to make about it. So, Philadelphia, don’t be sad to lose me. Be thrilled for the mischief I’ll get into, the magic I’ll encounter, the music I haven’t yet made.