I am terrible at answering reflective questions without a bit of distance from the moment. It is not that I don’t have a response, it is that it needs some space to rise up before it will mean anything to me or to anyone else. Driving 3,000 miles to the Pacific Northwest and back provides plenty of time and distance to shuck off the daily gremlin-like noise of busyness. It, also, creates space to hear what I am missing or simply forgot in the routine of living. Two things I came away with from time on the road, moments with wonderful friends, and my wife right besides me are a refreshed understanding of home and a desire to, as
wrote, “fall back into human shape.”
Home is not some place static and concrete.
When I travel, I tend to look at the places I visit and picture myself living there, calling it home. I drove through and spent time in all states but Alaska, and lived in a few other countries for a time. At each place, I looked around to see if home was to be found. Somewhere, in all those miles, I began to see home is not some place static and concrete.
Semblances of home are in friendships with all kinds of different people, discovered in long conversations on porches and couches, over meals or adventuring together. Though I often fail to be present to her, the most direct sense of home is there between me and my wife. It is not geographic. Home is intimate and organic and as such travels well on planes, boats, or in long drives in the car.
The reason for the long drive, aside from a long overdue road trip across the West, was, in part, to help with a gathering that happens a few times a year on Orcas Island called
. It is at the end of this time with artists, musicians, scholars, theologians, and many others who would consider themselves none of the above, that I am usually asked the reflective questions that need space more than a response.
Pipes, Scotch, and Cigars among Poets, Artists, and Friends.
A few days after my return to Boulder, I stumbled across these words in a poem by Jim Harrison, shared by a friend:
“I had to become the moving water I already am, falling back into human shape…” - Jim Harrison
Harrison’s words are a poetic and brief way to sum up what I conclude each time I return from being around the likes of those who have made something of the art that is in them, stumbling toward unearthing their master pieces buried in their flesh and spirit. It’s not so much about inspiration as it is a reminder to not hold back, to step forward into what I already know. In the simplest of terms I come away with a desire to be who I am, to give my attention to those creative stories to be told.
I live mostly distracted or stuffed up with banality. In a given day, the choices before me are: Choose the rich, deep few things or Choose the fluffy, sugary shallow plenty that never comes to much of anything.
You are not taking crazy pills after all
Ryan, a friend whom I spent some of those home-like moments over scotch and cigars said, “what I appreciate most about KindlingsFest has been the opportunities to get to know other like-minded folks, people who provide the rare, fresh-air feeling that maybe you're not taking crazy pills after all. Good to have people to keep you honest and not fall into complacency.”
The most authentic of connections with another human being have at their core a reminder that you are not taking crazy pills after all. This can’t help but keep me honest and spur – in the truest sense of the word, that sharp jab of spiked metal into the hide side of horse – me beyond complacency.
Two weeks on the road reminded me that home is made up of a space between others who accept you for the fool you are, remind you that you aren’t on crazy pills, but think far too much of you to let you get by with complacent living. It is an invitation into some wide open spaces that might feel a bit uncomfortable. It is a place where, if you are lucky, you become what you already are and thus more human.