Last week from Wednesday to Sunday I was in Montreal, Quebec for the annual Folk Alliance conference. As always a bunch of musical friends and strangers from all over the world descended upon one 5 star hotel silly enough to think they could keep hippies and folky vampires from drinking beers in the hallway at 2am. That’s hilarious.
But mostly it was songs and talking and making friends and working at the Info Booth to help people find the restrooms or where Buffy St. Marie was giving her talk. It was great. The food was great. Montreal gets high marks from me. Folk Allliance gets high marks from me.
Highlights include: The pool, the pool with Heather and Sarah, getting to sing with Bob, hearing Bob’s songs, sharing an ITR with Scott and Hayley, singing in Lou’s room, talking music and transcendance with Jeff, the Access Alliance guys and getting to hear them play, going out for dinner and having a wonderful conversation with Emily and Mike and Todd and Claudia, being at dinner with everyone when Banker gets the phone call that his daughter had just become engaged (cue happy tears), making friends at the Info Booth, hearing Glen Phillips sing Toad the Wet Sprocket songs, Sean McConnell, having a pep talk lunch with Chris, eating croissants with Rick on a bench in the train station, and getting a song start while working in the volunteer room. All good things.
Of course, by Sunday night I was tired and slipping down down down into self-doubt and fear, self-doubt and fear, self-doubt and fear. In the hallway I cried out, “I need the stamp! I need the stamp of approval so bad!” At my best things can be pretty fun. At my best I want to be the tide that raises all boat. At my worst I’m crumbling.
Both of those girls were present at Folk Alliance.
I love songs. I love talking songs, writing songs, admiring songs I love, falling in love with new songs and voices and Folk Alliance is a playground and the monkey bars are free and you can jump up and swing upside down and close you eyes so I did. (before the crumbling self-doubt part)
It was a memorable year and I’m glad I went. Different than past years, in ways slightly harder but good. I’m better at my job than I was before and people were kind enough to tell me so. That’s awesome.
In the midst of it I’m currently in an online songwriting workshop AND an online life coaching class. It’s all personal growth and stepping into my next best self over here. I wrote a song half in the volunteer room shift in Montreal and half on the plane flight back home the next day. I skipped out on life coaching sessions because I was talking and singing in Canada so this week has been catching up on all that. And writing another song (haven’t started).
I woke up early this morning after a bad dream where I was in a bar after hours and was playing guitar by myself when a group of men walk through the door, demand booze, I tell them the place is closed, they smash stuff and steal cups and I call 911 only I can’t read the street signs from inside the bar so I can’t tell the dispatcher my location and I’m crying.
I don’t know what it means, but I think it means trying to keep going even when things are getting smashed. I think it means you should check to see if the door is locked before you assume you can play your guitar by yourself in a bar in the middle of the night. I think it means that discomfort is part of the equation if you’ve got your eyes set on something further down the road. In this filtered Insta- world of ours we don’t like to talk about the smashing and the first draft that’s not all there yet. We like the before and the after picture but not the six months in between.
My friends, I can’t be certain, but I’m pretty sure I’m living in the in between. Guys, I’m not 100% on this, but I think we all might be living in the in between. That’s why there’s laughing and crying, there’s falling and flying, and every day we’re walking toward who we were called to be. Really she’s already there but she gets lost sometimes. Even when she steps into her more fully realized calling, she’ll still get lost and that’s OK. Thank God for music, thank God for folk friends, for continuing ed, for togetherness in the in between. I’m glad we’re doing it together. NOW GO WRITE THE SONG!!! (or whatever it is you feel called to create)