Ferry to realization…

18 Feb

Today Celina and I decided to take the ferry over to Whidbey Island.  I’ve lived in WA state for about 18 months and I had yet to take a ferry.  I had ridden on the water taxi from downtown over to W. Seattle to see the Tripwires and Damien Jurado once but that hardly counts since I could have just driven right over anyway.  This I consider a rite, something inherent in the culture of western Washington.  There’s a free bus that takes you anywhere on the island that you want to go.

As we waited for the bus at the ferry terminal a certain calm came over me.  People always speak of Islanders having a different pace and enjoying the simple pleasures, but as you know hearing about a concept and understanding it intellectually is entirely different from experiencing it deeply on some unknown level.  This probably sounds really cliche but I’m pressing on anyway.  I’ve always heard that about places like Key West and various points eastward in the Caribbean.  I got a sense of that in Mexico, but in Jamaica the drivers are worse than Manhattan.  One of the Jamaican tour buses in our caravan got into a fender bender!  But this is something different entirely- on this island people were wearing sweaters and hats, for instance.  They were listening to each other when they spoke and letting each other finish a sentence- not simply waiting to talk as I’ve seen so much in some of the coffee shops in and around Seattle.  It’s not so black and white either, like one location is preferable to the other and here are the “top ten reasons” why.  This isn’t that kind of blog, actually.  Just intangibly, but certainly noticeably different.

The frenzied pace of the urban landscape, for the first time, gave me a headache and made me curse (a bunch) last week when I spent an unusually long two hours in traffic on my way down to Georgetown from Monroe for work.  To those who know the landscape, I know that’s a long way to commute for any job- forty-five minutes on a good day, but this is something I promised myself would be temporary, a condition of the job I’d initially hoped to remedy as our lease draws to a close this May.  I am reminded of the lyrics of Norwegian songwriter, Sondre Lerche (someone’s been watching “Dan in Real Life.”) that I just heard for the first time the other day.

“I’m not gonna state obvious observations everybody makes but baby be prepared to be surprised.”

I have been surprised a lot lately and now that I feel open to it, it’s happening more and more.  So simple, yet eerily pertinent when I consider the geographical component of the general attitude or demeanor of a particular demographic.  For example, when I first announced my plans to move to the great Northwest from Louisiana, on several occasions, I was forewarned about the “Seattle freeze” and/or a certain element of passive aggression common with the notoriously tough-to-crack shells of Seattle social circles.  For the first several months I refused to believe it but the more I existed in Seattle, the more prominent this “problem” became.  The concept came full-circle in a roundabout, joke’s-on-you manner the other day as I came to the realization that if you’re that difficult to know, I don’t want to know you!

For the better part of a year I played the networking game, attending more shows than I could afford at times handing out fliers for our gigs and my card at classroom sessions at the Art Institute whenever I met aspiring musicians and sound engineers.  I wear my heart on my sleeve like any good musician or hippie in denial should and on more than one occasion I couldn’t help but feel that my cohorts were so anxious to trample on it and even cut away little pieces for themselves.  These experiences initially brought me great discomfort as I meditated and thought, “God, what do you want from me?”  Aren’t I doing the things I should to build my career and generate a genuine interest in my art?  A resounding no.

As I sat today in Useless Bay Coffee shop in the sleepy, but aware town of Langley, Washington on Whidbey Island, I could only take comfort in the idea that the long, slow burn, while obviously preferable to the “hit-driven” career of yesteryear comes with a huge but not always evident qualifier:

You must really be into and believe in what you are creating.  Your heart must absolutely be in it, otherwise you’ll simply get discouraged and lose interest.  Enjoy your life, travel, have experiences and for God’s sake, get out of your comfort zone.  Otherwise, your motives will be clear and people will not be responsive no matter how “genuine” your emotions driving your work may be.  Doing anything for the love (the true meaning of the word amateur, by the way) is so much easier said than done, but when you realize the impact that it can have on you, your life, and your work, you get a sense of calm that is impossible to duplicate.

Of course there are exceptions, the road to super-stardom (not my motive by the way) is paved with wannabes, cash cows, and one-hit wonders.  For them, the inverse to my earlier statement is true:  If you’re that easy to know, I probably don’t want to know you.  But just below the surface there are some great things being said, ideas being shared, etc.  And today, watching and absorbing the island state of mind afforded me a great metaphor for that realization.

Sondre Lerche song I referenced:


2 Responses to “Ferry to realization…”

  1. Debora February 8, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

    Sondre Lerche… He's from Norway. AND he is ptrety cool!I am from Noraway…. 😀 Wow, I've seen him live three times, he rocks!

    • generalcapgun February 9, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

      Cool. Thanks for the comment, Debora and thanks for reading. I hope to visit Norway someday.

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