Heightened Sensibilities (Part 3)

On Monday night, Kirk and I had tickets to see David Wilcox. Neither of us had ever heard his music before, though I have friends back home (and one in particular -- you know who you are!) who have recommended him to us for quite some time. We looked forward to hearing what he was all about.

He's a folk artist who blends storytelling with his music. When I talk about blending storytelling, I mean just that: he tells a lot of stories, both in between songs (as he stands there picking his guitar so lyrically and hypnotically) and through his lyrics. He also has a smile a mile wide that flashes at you just before he ducks his head in amazement at the appreciation the audience offers him at the end of his songs. And his laugh . . . well, his laugh will blow you away. It's so totally unexpected, quite high-pitched and sudden and wild. It makes you laugh out loud yourself, to hear it. It makes you smile a mile wide.

The David Wilcox concert was a gift to my heart. On the most superficial level, this is obvious: he talks about heart and story and journey and spirit, and speaks a language of life that is second tongue to the life Kirk and I live every day. It felt like refreshment of the spirit to find another who speaks this language, and one who is called to gently lead others along into this road through his stories and his songs. The audience was completely captivated by him. Most of them were hearing him for the first time, too.

But on another level, it felt like a gift just for me, deeply personalized and wrapped up in a spectacular bow, then dropped right down in my lap. And that's because, as David led us through an hour's worth of his song stories, my own heart took a journey.

First David talked about a two-year trip around the country he and his wife and his son just completed, tooling around in their silver Airstream with a new vista out their window every day. Now, I have never dreamed of taking this particular kind of trip myself. It was fun to rest in gladness for something that meant so much to him and his family without feeling the need to join in.

But this first story spoke to me of freedom, the insides of yourself and the outsides of yourself completely open to all things new and fresh experiences found each day on a long road laid out before you. Again, I feel no need to now go cruising around the States, free of trappings and toils, because Kirk and I feel free of traditional trappings and toils in our life now, plus we love where we live. But I began to think on an interior kind of freedom with this story, the kind of freedom that keeps me, too, open to all things new and fresh experiences found each day on a long road laid out before me: the road of a long life lived with an open and free-filled spirit. Given the conversation Kirk and I had just shared on the previous day, the notion of such interior freedom was a ripe fruit ready to be plucked down as juicy ambrosia for my parched and expiring spirit, a spirit that had lapsed into trying with all its might to play a role it was never meant to play.

Freedom. Mmmm.

David went on to sing of a close encounter with a secret sun, where all our darkness comes undone, leading up to a party of wonder . . . and I felt my own heart come undone, the darkness spilling out as it faces the sun of the enduring love of God, and how such security nudges me into a wide-eyed wonder of life and all that I can see, all that I can feel, all that I can love. I want that kind of wonder, the kind that only comes through a freedom and security found in a love that endures beyond all barriers.

It shouldn't have surprised me that David then led into a song of the mind/heart dichotomy, how the heart wants to say, "Let's go," but the mind says, "I don't know," how the mind can stand stock still, wishing it knew where all the particulars are leading to, how it stands to work and work and work at the courage to jump . . . only to be lost in contemplation, running out of time, about to miss the train that will swiftly carry it along to a new adventure. I do this so well: contemplate, consider, scuff my feet and say that I don't yet know, keeping myself from the fleet-filled jump that will hurl me onto new tracks, out of control yet resting in a greater, sturdier, bulkier control that carries me in its frame as it carries me along to where I need and am meant to be.

The next-to-last song was the capstone of my experience. He spoke of a girl who danced as if moving through liquid music, how the music knew her and moved through her as though the instruments were listening to the music that she played, moving as one body, the music and her soul, as her physical body played out the melody.

When I heard these lyrics, my mind flew back to one beautiful, moon-filled evening I shared with Kirk early in the life of our love. I had flown to Florida for a weekend visit, after months of e-mails and wireless phone signals flying across the country at rapid speed, to see what we were like in real life. On the second night of our visit, he cooked dinner for us at his 1920s-era house: vine-ripe tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella drizzled in balsamic vinegar and basil, sauteed and seasoned green and yellow squash, chunks of marinated beef, and a bottle of red wine. Good conversation. Three huge and brilliant sunflowers in a vase on the table between us. Eva Cassidy playing on the stereo behind us.

Later that evening, we turned down some lights and let the moonlight fill the front room through the wood-slatted blinds and cranked up some grooving music so that it filled the house to bursting. And we danced. Danced. I felt like the girl in the song David Wilcox sang, letting the music flow into me and through me, moving like liquid music in the moonlight, letting my spirit fly unselfconsciously and with grace, eyes closed as I snaked around the room, arms raised, body twirling. Glorious. Free.

Standing here today, struggling as I am with an old perfectionist bent I thought I had finally kicked, I'm not sure where such free-spiritedness has gone. Perhaps, as I shared in a comment on my last post, it must be relearned in this new place as my identity has grown to include wife, student, explorer, writer. Perhaps receiving those new roles has taken its own fair share of time and attention, and now it is time to integrate.

Whatever the case may be, I certainly feel myself on the verge of integration. It will take time and patience and much grace, but here I am, jumping off, risking, trusting in the stronger arms that will catch me and carry me along to where I'm meant to go.