May 19, 2009 Gainesville, Florida: The Hard Truths

Back in Gainesville again, on my way to the Florida State Folk Festival. A serious cold front weather system has moved in, pouring rain down.

the Hard Truth: The Dulcimer

I have left St. Augustine behind, but am not really planning on going back. Though I made a big splash, it is a small pond. That is the problem. Though I could easily settle there and make good money gigging, and expand out to North and Central Florida, it is really a distraction if I am going to “do more” with the dulcimer and fulfill my vow to show it to the greater world. St. Augustine isn’t a place to “do more” with the dulcimer, but to hide it, hide my talent, like I did before in the old Key West, playing in an out of the way tourist town far from the spotlight. I just told the Alaska fairs I won’t be coming up, ostensibly to work in the studio this summer, but really because I have to leave Alaska behind for a while as well, for the same reason. It may be a place I want to live, with a flow of tourists and a nice local scene, endless wildlands and great people, but it is a place to retire to, away from the national and world stage, out of the spotlight. I have even decided that I should probably sell my sailboats, too, get rid of everything unrelated to the music, that distracts me from it.

I have to recognize the consequences and realities of “doing more” with the dulcimer, of stepping on to the national and world stage, which means going to places like Nashville and LA and NYC, the larger cities and festivals around the country, and world touring. Places I have no desire to go to personally, or I would have, would be there now. I have to forget plans and dreams that are along the lines of my old life, living quietly as a working musician in out of the way places far from the spotlight and near nature. Perhaps this effort will come to nothing, and generally, in a decade I’ll be done, then I can retire to a place like St. Augustine and/or Alaska. But the places I would chose to be are really out of the picture for me now. I should be planning to do great things with the dulcimer, even if it means I will have time and space for nothing else in my life.

Maybe this effort will result in nothing, then I can return to my old life. It is always there, just as I can always get another boat, or play a small tourist town, or go back to Alaska to play the fairs and dig for gold, or travel the country playing for anyone I meet, at the thousands of little venues and fairs, or just out on the street. I’ve never had a problem with finding people to play for, when I wasn’t interested in “doing more”. Realistically, I know the dulcimer will probably make a splash anywhere I take it, and I could be busy on the world stage for the next decade at least, perhaps for as long as I can manage to keep playing. Though with the internet and video, ten years is more than enough to start a whole new way of dulcimer playing, inspire a new generation of dulcimer players, modern dulcimer players, and people building electric dulcimers for them. I will no longer be needed and my work will be done. Perhaps then I can find the time for a home, even time enough for love.

Personally, its been a really troubling time. Accepting these things. That the simple life I have lived so long is really lost to me, perhaps as it should have been long ago, for I am meant to “do more” than the simple life of quiet service I have lived. I made such a big splash in St. Augustine, liking the town, but the very reaction convincing me I can’t stay. I am doing something great with the dulcimer, there can be no doubt. I have a role to play in a larger world, but as always, it sets me apart from all the people who live in smaller worlds, or follow the roads more travelled. I’m not saying that one road is better than another, one place, how large a world you chose to live in… though that is a sad prejudice in many. They are different, each with their rewards and potentials, and their drawbacks, limits, and costs. There are few insurmountable boundaries, you chose what you want to do with your life, include in your life, to the limit of the effort you want to make, and the absolute limit that you have only so much time and energy. That is the only true limit.

The Hard Truth: Lady Light

I don’t hide the truth. Though I don’t claim I always see it, we seem to fool ourselves better than anyone. Which means the above is true, but only part of the truth. The other is I may not go back because I met a special woman there, one of the few in my life who could attract my attention away from the dulcimer, reach through the hypnotic beauty and intensity of the music, and reach me. But it doesn’t seem to be good for either of us, and I can play anywhere. I do love her, intensely, from the first, which means I want to do the best for her, The best thing I might be able to do for both of us is to not go back, not force us to face this situation, both the connection and the walls between us. I can be strong, I could go there, maybe be friends with her, or just avoid her, or play this game where its so intense so we can’t be friends easily, can’t hardly talk to each other, yet we can’t avoid each other, whether because we can’t resist, or it is fate, or it is just a small town. I can be strong, but it costs me, and I need to spend my energy on the music, not on being strong to deal with a situation I can avoid. If she needed me, I could be there for her, and be strong for her, for us. But otherwise, what is the point? I can hold my hand in the flame, but it does not mean that I do not feel the pain, doesn’t mean that I do not get hurt, even crippled. I have nothing to prove, I know my strength, and have been through the fire, and have the scars.

It really, well, hurt, because we had a great personal resonance, and she was the dream, a girl who had the energy to stand next to me on stage and shine as bright, maybe a match for me at last. But the dream isn’t real, of course, and I don’t confuse it with reality. And the reality failed to measure up, once again. Though in many ways, I don’t really know. So much is assumption, since we never really talked, though I stayed around a long time for me. I could say she wasn’t interested in me, though I don’t really know, perhaps she doesn’t either. There doesn’t need to be a reason, good or bad, it just is. I looked at her as a test, a challenge for me to rise to, and be the great spirit I can be, to rise above my own wants and needs and serve hers, do what is right for her, and forget about the dream, about love, about asking for anything. In the end, she couldn’t rise to the challenge I represent, couldn’t meet me half-way, at the level of being I operate on, a match for me, able to deal open and honestly, not play games. So it goes. I need a woman who knows that she wants to be with me and the dulcimer, because I don’t have the time and energy to spare trying to convince her, and it won’t be easy keeping up with me, so she better be committed and dedicated for it to work, and able to live on the level of awareness I do, of rapport and resonance, and “Knowing” what is Right, and following it. Like with the music. We never talked that much, she didn’t really want to talk to me, and I didn’t force myself into her space.

She told me once, in some strange, short interactions that we had, that I “chose to be alone”, which is so wrong. It is my great sorrow that I have been alone, have lived a life without love. I wanted to tell her that I did not chose to be alone, she chose for me to be alone, by chosing not to be with me, though it is a decision I respect. She is just one of the thousands of women I have played for who chose not to be with me, or one of the five who I experienced a deep resonance with, like her, who also chose not to be with me. I can only open my heart to them, love them, but I can’t make them love me or chose to be with me. And I have chosen to follow the dulcimer, because I must, everything else is always on the table, and doesn’t really matter much anyway. Strangely, too, it reminds me of what a true great resonance is like, though I have experienced it so few times, how real it is, and how pale other attractions seem by comparison. The dulcimer is so magic, so intense and beautiful, that it is hard for me to imagine anything less in my personal life. The resonance I felt this time is at that level, but it is only that, an intense and deep connection to another person, soul meeting soul, heart meeting heart, but it is only a foundation to build on. We are still people, and we have personalities, and lives, that keep us apart. I am older and know that despite that resonance, the results can be tragic, and the hurts that much deeper for the connection. She is younger, and perhaps doesn’t realize how rare such a deep connection is.

It is also about fear. I was certainly afraid of her, of the disruption and trouble she could cause in my life. I remember going away from our first meeting trying to grasp the shocking truth that I’d met a woman, who I didn’t even know yet, but if she said the word, I would stay. All the things I have to do, but she was more important. Though I remeber saying t someone later that the one thing I knew she wouldn’t do would be to ask me to stop playing music, stop playing the dulcimer.

It is hard to give in to a force more powerful than you, to not be in control, and a love formed from such a resonance could be that great. People usually want to be in control, or at least feel they are. Because of the life I have lived, and the philosophy I follow, I am more used to giving up my fate to forces beyond my control, like the sea, and dancing with it, accepting I am in the grip of forces beyond my control, like the music, and the dulcimer, The Way, and even my own emotions and the spirit within me. I do not resist, or fight these forces, but I do not let them control me either, but dance upon them.. I do not control the waves, but I can surf upon them, I cannot control the sea, but I can sail a course upon it.

I didn’t try to resist or deny my feelings for her. I could accept this connection to someone that I did not know and in the end, could not trust, and left behind, despite the pain and sorrow it caused me. I could watch hope spring up as it eternally does, even while accepting from the beginning it was practically impossible and essentially hopeless. Perhaps she could not accept giving in to such a powerful force, and chose to stay where she was in control. It is her choice, or course. Many people make that same choice. I doubt I’ll ever know. I am not here to judge anyone else, only to judge myself. I did my best, I am not perfect, but I did well in a very hard and painful situation for me.

It hurts to think I might have finally met someone like me, but there were so many things in the way, including ourselves. We might be made for each other, that doesn’t mean there aren’t unreconcilable differences. She is who she is, and has chosen a path in life, as have I. I wish that I had met someone like her where there weren’t such obstacles, where it could have been easy for us to be together, but it didn’t turn out that way. Once I thought that if we loved each other enough, nothing else mattered..but I’ve learned that even a deep resonance and love can’t overcome everything. I have the scars. Perhaps it is still that which held me back, made me too cautious, too afraid, too aware of the damage she might do. Though I told her once, just before I left, that I apologized for letting fear move me, and that she wasn’t my past.. but still I left her behind. And I will always regret that I did, or that I felt I had to.

At the heart of the experience is that I live for this world of energy, and within it I perceive certain things too clearly. Like when I share a deep resonance with another, though I do not know if they know it, or what that means, why or what for, it just is. I wish people weren’t so obsessed with sex and relationships as the only expression of energy, and so many people create soap operas, storms of words and assumptions and suppositions and all it does is get in the way of, well, just being friends, maybe managing to talk a bit, get to know each other better, no matter what the hard truth might be. I would have been glad to just talk, and play music with her, as I would have with a man, or share experiences we both enjoy, in rapport, like walking down a beach with a dog, watching the waves and sun. A deep resonance means the potential to achieve deep rapport, but there’s a wide range of ways to do this. I have met so few with whom I have known this deep a resonance, as if we have known each other through many lives perhaps, or are two parts of one whole, or tuned like two radios on the same frequency (my prefered explaination). I cannot explain it, and do not need to, because I Know it, and see it too clearly, whatever terms I describe it in. Though none of those women with whom I experienced this with became the great love or partner I seek in life, and one was the worst experience of my life. I have made great and long lasting friendships with men whom I experienced this resonance with. This connection is one of depth and intensity, with no destined result. The few women I’ve met like this I refused because they couldn’t tell what was Right, which leads to serious problems, and I could not trust them with my life. I made that mistake once, and won’t do that again. . And now she is gone, this latest great resonance to cross my path, or I have left her behind as too dangerous to me and the dulcimer and the things I need to do, and probably lost forever, off to the life she has chosen to live, away from me and this resonance, as I have to follow the path I have chosen, or has been laid before me. As I said to one person as we talked of free will, could I chose to stop playing the dulcimer, really? Perhaps she will find another like me, more suited to her personally, to the world and road she has chosen. I have met five like her in my life, and it is hard to measure if one was stronger than another. But I know I can walk away, despite the cost to my heart and soul. So now I have to go on, do the things I am here to do, great things. Things much greater than I, and my simple wants and needs. Though I will never forget meeting another of the few, as they all stand like beacons in my memory. Perhaps this was the last chance in my life for love, for someone to share this stage I am on, this road I am on, stand beside me against all that faces us, both the troubles and challenges, and the crowds of people we play for. I do not know, but I gave her up to serve the music and the dulcimer, because I have to, for I know it is what I am meant to do. And the dulcimer and the music are real, while so much else is dream and illusion, though I know that the resonance was real, and undeniable, what we could have built upon it is unknown. But I can’t drop to her level, that is not right, only extend a hand to help raise her to mine. Which I did, but she had to take it, and stand on her own feet, her own will and energy, and shine. That is the dream, but the reality is that she is gone, and I probably will never see her again, and even if I do, she may not be there for me, to let me share her world, and share her world with me. She is who she is, and I cannot make her different, only she can. Perhaps she can rise to meet me, somehow, perhaps not, I can only accept what is real and go on, for I have work to do.


I have raised up a temple in my soul
and there I have sculpted statues of fire, light, and stone
of those few bright spirits who crossed my dark and troubled way
touching mine
heart and soul

and each day I lay my simple songs
like garlands of flowers at their feet
as tribute of my love

and I have laid my heart upon the altar there
for it belongs to them
and them alone

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