Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Don't Worry Baby

When we dropped Indiana Jane off at the airport last month for her trip to Belize, she panicked. "I don't want to go! I feel like I'm making a huge mistake!" Her older sister and I looked at their mom, ready to put our hands over her mouth at the slightest indication that motherly concern for her youngest daughter's well-being would cause her to say "Don't worry, baby, you don't have to go." Fortunately we didn't have to resort to such measures, and Indiana Jane was soon on her way to the adventure of a lifetime, a university sponsored dig of a Maya ruin in the jungles of Belize.

I'm usually adventurous, although most people mistake my willingness to have new experiences as bravery. It isn't that I don't have respect for the fragility of life, I'm not stupid. I don't put myself in harm's way. I also don't sit at home and wish that something good would happen to me. Most of us need to make things happen. We have to be the catalyst for change.

One of the adventurous things I did that the people in my life often misconstrue as bravery is show up for a month-long gig in Switzerland with twenty US dollars in my pocket, and nothing more. This was not a fearless move. Part of my compensation for performing in the Casino de Montreux was a nice apartment to stay in and two square meals a day. Payday was on the fifteenth of the month, so all I had to worry about was selling enough of the cassette tapes I slapped together at the last minute to keep myself in cigarettes, chocolate and pastry. I never went without.

That was an adventurous time in my life. The dream gig was preceded by a move to Nashville a year earlier. I left all of my friends, all of my familiar haunts, to find out if I had what it took to be a staff writer for any of the major music publishers. After a few months I realized that my material was too far out of the mainstream to induce any serious interest from the handful of companies that paid enough of a draw to live on. I wasn't willing to compromise the songs I had already written, or the songs I would one day write, in order to fit inside an arbitrary mold that many in the music business based their careers on. I stayed two years after that realization because I loved the energy of the town, and I had a fun day job. I was a deckhand on a paddle wheel riverboat during the daytime sightseeing cruises, and at night I was one of the entertainers. I was surrounded by other musicians. My time in Nashville marked one of the most prolific periods I have ever experienced as a songwriter.

Last week we received a postcard from Indiana Jane. It read, in part, "I'm having the time of my life! No regrets!" Today, when we picked her up at the airport, she repeated that statement. Now she has some amazing stories to tell for the rest of her life.

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