I went to Kerrville. There were tents and beer and it rained. There were guitars and songwriters and beer and we sang songs for one another. We sang songs up on stage, we sang songs in the morning, we sang songs at night while it rained and rained and rained, we sang songs in the afternoon next to an old schoolbus that had been converted into a home in a campground full of music and love and new friends.
I wanted to win the New Folk Competition, but I didn't. I cried when they didn't call my name and then I pulled myself together so I could help celebrate those who did win.
I came home and felt thankful for all I had seen and learned and all that reminded me of why I love songwriting and why I love the world where the song is king. I drove back home and went back to normal and this afternoon I watched the facebook feed of those posting pics of the winners playing their tunes on the Grassy Hill Stage and that's when it got me and I cried again. I did something wrong, but I don't know what and the reason why it makes me sad is because I'm faced with the same criticism I've faced many times before: you're close, but not there yet. And every time I hear it in its most recent form, I throw my hands up and ask God, "How do I get what I don't get yet?" And so the tears aren't so much about the contest as they are about that missing piece that's just out of reach. Again.
And then I remember a conversation I had with a fellow artist at the ranch in Texas under a tarp, the rain coming down, the beers in our hands. The questions were asked: "What would you do different if all those barriers fell down? What would you do different if all the bad music in this world disappeared and the good songs stayed instead? What would you do if the road never got any easier?" The answer we agreed upon was: NOTHING. No matter what the road looks like and no matter how bad the news, it won't change the work I do. Get into the groove of Hill Country ups and downs, be patient, press on, be thankful for the good parts.