So continuing on my great love for the words of Donald Miller, I was reminded yesterday of a concept in his book “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years”, where he discusses the concept of our lives being like stories that we get to write. The braver we are, and the more we live our lives with intention, the better those stories become.
Yesterday was a good and important day. I felt it the day before then that it would be, because I had the strangest day and things just felt awkward, like they were shifting and things weren’t fitting together the same way anymore. A friend and I had our first gig. We’ve been hacking it out with our guitars and vocals for a few months and trying to find a sound for the things life has taught us and wanted to showcase little soundtracks to our lives so far. We were playing at a strange arts festival where we got to paint the shacks of the‘poor’ community in our city. Originally we were praying that we would get an evening spot, because our songs are more mellow than the rest of the lineup for the day, and we weren’t sure what time they’d slotted us in due to the lack of a program.
Boy did we get our evening spot. When we got there they told us we were going to be on at around 8pm, to which we fistpumped and skipped and exclaimed “yesss”, since that had been our hope. By then it was freezing. Beyond freezing. Our shelter was a half-closed, but really mostly open tent, with the wind blowing through, freezing us to the bone. There were hippies. And pot (am I allowed to say that on the internet?) And African songs being played about pimples on backs on a saturday. My fingers were full of paint, and a lot of different, weird and wonderful sounds were being produced by the other musicians. We then got told that there had been a setback because they’d started so late, and more bands had arrived to play, so we would only be playing around 11pm. Did I mention that it was freezing?
So we sat around in the awkward in between, trying to figure out how to stay warm, stay encouraged, stay awake, and simply, stay. We (me, and the 5 amazing friends who braved the day with us) sat in my car playing games, complaining about the weather, and laughing about a whole range of things that I can’t repeat. 12am came around and the crowd had dwindled due to the cold. We had so many technical glitches during our sound check that at some point I started wondering whether this was worth it and whether we shouldn’t just go home. I used a piece of upright wood which had 2 mics ducktaped to it as my amplifier. There was about 6 people in the room (all being people we know), and a drunk hippy or two in the room when we started our set. We played our hearts out. It was hilarious. Our fingers were frozen and I could see my breath coming out in puffs in front of me as I sang. I forgot the words to some songs (thanks for the save Josh), we were nervous and I was uncomfortable because I had the strangest amp set up to deal with. But it was beautiful.
And the lesson is this: good stories require a great deal of sacrifice. A great deal of discomfort. A great deal of determination. And a great deal of vulnerability. Yesterday alone, I experienced all those things. And most of those things are not easy to deal with one by one, nevermind having them all churning and throwing themselves at you together all at once. And sometime during the evening, while trying to fold myself into the blanket until it was warming up my insides, I remembered Donald miller’s book about stories. And about how I had vowed that I want to live a GOOD one. And I laughed, and thought- we may never get recognized musically, but at least I will have a damn good story to tell about our journey in trying.
By the time we finished our set, a lot more people had come in to watch and brave out the cold. We were the only band to be asked to do an encore for the day. Josh got a marriage proposal from a creepy hippy, and I was told I was a musical prodigy. I’d brave the cold to have days like this more often, I think.