Last Friday I left Austin, TX for San Marcos, TX. I played music in Austin for about a month and again it was hard leaving a place where so much had happened. I showed up for the beginning of SXSW and jumped right into playing music. I probably played music 5 days a week or more. I met a lot of people interested in what I was doing and was supported over and over again for just showing up. Most days I felt pretty tired but just kept at it. I found new pockets inside myself that allowed me to keep going.
There were days when faith was all that I had. I’ve been dealing with something that’s been beyond words to try and describe. Feeling like there’s a weight I’m carrying that I want so desperately to release. The weight is made of large swaths of fear. There’s a longer story here but for now that’s all I’ll say.
Last Friday I played in San Marcos, TX in the evening. San Marcos is a college town home to Texas State University. The downtown is maybe 4 or 5 blocks long and contains shops, bars, restaurants, and a large courtyard with a municipal building in the center.
I originally thought about setting up there but the only place I thought would work was right along the edge of the road which would have meant trying to play over traffic. There also weren’t many people around. Instead, I opted for playing in the center of the main drag. Needless to say, that last Friday was probably the hardest time I’ve had playing in the last few months. I just couldn’t find a groove for myself. It didn’t help that there weren’t many people interested in what I was doing. There were some nice interactions that happened pretty early on and then for the last large portion of time I was alone. I felt ashamed in a way that was pretty overwhelming. Nothing had changed really from any of the other times I’ve played. I guess I was just feeling more sensitive to being in a new place and also pretty exhausted from how much I had going on. I didn’t have the resources to muster anything more that day. I was proud of the fact that I played in San Marcos. I wasn’t comfortable where I set up, and I wasn‘t comfortable with the environment around me. There was music in my periphery from an adjacent bar that I kept hearing.
I realize this may seem negative and that’s ok. It was just hard. I was trying to be supportive of myself and the fact that I was out there but I felt really alone in a way I can’t describe. I couldn’t give myself what I needed and I wasn‘t receiving the connections I thought were possible. I played well considering it all and after a few hours simply packed up and drove back to Austin for the night.
I thought I was going to get up early and have one more go at playing in Austin but it didn’t happen. I just couldn’t play. I was too overwhelmed, tired, scared, and anxious. Instead I drove back down I 35 South heading for San Antonio.
After making into the city, again I knew I couldn’t play. I found some places that may have worked but I just didn’t have the energy to try. So, after driving around for 30 minutes in San Antonio, I left for Houston.
I had never been to Houston before and didn’t know what to expect. I liked the feel of the city from what I saw. There were some beautiful parks, some cool neighborhood, and a lot more space. I found a couple places that I thought would work for busking but I never ended up pulling the trigger. The weather was kind of all over the place in Houston over the last few days. It was hot, overcast, rainy, windy, sunny a little but each day. So while I didn’t end up playing in Houston I did manage to write some songs, learn another, and practice a bit.
Each one of these places I will have a go at busking here soon. I’m doing the best I can to manage where I‘m at. I can’t really explain to anyone and don’t bother trying for the most part. I know that I’ve stepped up time and time again in the last several months playing music while processing something that has left me immobilized at times. I’ve done my best to be loving and respectful of everyone I’ve met while also trying to take care of me. I’m not weak, or broken. It’s taken the most amount of strength I’ve ever had to muster to live this life while also working through something traumatic. I hope someday looking back I can see what this time really was about and feel a lot of love for myself for how far I had to dig just to keep going.
At my best I know that the most difficult things I’ve ever experienced have also brought me gifts of being able to connect with people in a very deep way. My suffering has brought me immense compassion, empathy, intuition, and grace. I feel things very intensely moment by moment, each day. While this can be very hard to manage, it’s also allowed me to reach the depths of my soul and pour that out into the world through music. It’s allowed me to share who I am in a very authentic, fearless way. And, it’s allowed others to share that space with me. My only hope is to keep shining a light on the world through having the courage to keep walking this path with as much love as I can embody every day.
Tomorrow I’m playing a private event here in Austin. Someone invited me to play music for their date :) I hope to get out in the morning and busk for a while before the gig. I played music today in Austin and things were as special as ever. Like I hadn’t missed a beat. There were a lot of wonderful moments of connection that really made me feel at home again. People I don’t think realize how much it means to be received for being yourself. I don’t take it for granted and it’s something that has really been a huge part of my playing. As if I’m not the only one wielding an instrument and performing. A smile is a song that can reach my heart, a wave too. To stand and listen to me, to be touched by what I do! Whatever you think I’m sending you is being sent right back to me from you. Bless you all for every simple act of kindness.
*Images below from Houston
”Hard Road” was a song I wrote this past week in Houston.