Once again, here I am with a perfectly relevant word for this day, this moment. I read in my Richard Rohr email this morning that there is nothing in this world that isn’t interconnected. I would go so far as to say that I’m not necessarily sure there’s anything in the universe that isn’t interconnected as well.
I’m headed to Alabama today with a case of nerves almost as bad as I’ve ever had. I asked myself this morning “What was I thinking?” when I considered that I’d put together a tour that might not represent a whole lot of joy and happiness, and that people might not want to come hear me talk about a book that is so heavy and a record that is too. But then I thought, “That’s what it’s about, but it’s not really what it’s about.” What this is all about is healing, doing so through art, investigation, and the willingness to look with as clear an eye as possible at what I came from and where I’ve gone since, and how the carrying of the past affects the way in which I walk through it all in the present. I want so badly to understand it all, and it’s my job as an artist to follow those questions and then report on them. What I am receiving back from the world is encouragement, but also and more importantly, stories. Stories that are hard to type, hard to say out loud, hard to get out from under. That I may be able to help even one person out of their shame, or at least to investigate it, indicates I’ve done a good thing.
However — I’m still going to Alabama today, which makes me question everything. It always does, whether I have shows to do there or not. I think it takes a lot of mental, spiritual, and intellectual energy to parse out how we experience life, and so many things can disrupt clarity and introduce overwhelming complexity on top of what is already incredibly complex, especially voices from the past. I can’t sit on a rock and meditate. That’s not what I’m here to do. So as I recenter every second, I think of this:
How important is it, I ask. What does it mean, I wonder. Is home other people? Is home a sense of belonging? Is home inside of us?
Home is not a place. How many times can we say it? Home, for me, is now some kind of peace. I had to work on changing that definition. Home comes from a present mind reminding me to be thankful for the roof over my head, wherever I am. But presence is hard to find. Look backward and become depressed. Focus forward and feel anxiety and worry. Sit still and be okay. Home, when it’s inside of us, allows us to sit still. Home allows us to just be, because it accepts us as we are.
Maybe I’m lucky that I feel hardly any physical pull toward the place I spent my childhood. I don’t need to go there to feel like I belong somewhere. I’ve been making my own homes for well over half of my life, feathering my own nests from things I’ve sometimes had to fish out of the clearance bins, discovering comfort and security through deep breaths, cups of coffee, or scratch biscuits like Mama and Nanny made. However I learned to make myself a home, whether through placing a stack of books on a hotel room nightstand or stopping in the hallway to listen to my son’s sleepy laughter, I am happy to feel it when I can.
The esperance simmering on the stove. I carry it with me.
I’m looking forward to seeing folks I haven’t seen in years. I’m looking forward to connecting with those who knew my family when it was intact. I’m also looking forward to seeing how we have all grown past where we were so long ago.
I will never shake Frankville, Alabama out of my bones. I don’t want to. Those buttercups in that photograph and that bluest of blue sky is in my veins forever, no matter how far I travel.
Happy Wednesday, Y’all.
Peace and love.
PS – photos by Hayes Carll