|Dear Friends of Switchback,
This week marks my 57th year of being in this world. As I count many blessings that surround my life, I include the many friendships that I have had the pleasure of making over the years. Playing in Switchback gives me an opportunity that is rare today. Traveling, sharing life stories with others and connecting on a soul level through music has and hopefully will continue to be, a gift.
Yet, the pandemic has its gifts to give. The biggest one is the ability to slow down time. Fortunately for me, I haven’t had to spend that time alone. Having spent 35 years performing music, I can draw upon a rich store of relationships. And with the Internet, connecting with people may not be face-to-face, but we can still enjoy connection that those souls in the 1918 flu pandemic could only dream about.
Another gift is watching Áine grow. Spending time with her, face masks and all, has been a joy. We have played together quite a lot, especially with the hot weather. Sprinklers, water balloons, chalk drawings, walks and getting her to ride her bike sans training wheels. Heading out to Woodstock and catching bullfrogs and salamanders at Uncle Robby’s farm to bring back to our little pond in Chicago. Áine is growing into a little lady. The sheer joy of holding her, carrying my little daughter is done with the awareness of the passing of pandemic time, all made possible because I am not touring, but here at home.
Annie and I have had the pleasure of watching our gardens grow. We both are as busy as ever it seems and yet, with not being away from home, our home has become a wonderful oasis to talk at length and share the joy of being together. Our gardens, those in the yard and the spiritual ones are well tended these days. The yards are finally getting the attention they deserve. And so, too, is our relationship, often playing second fiddle to the road. Getting to look at my wife every day and seeing just how beautiful she is has been a great gift.
I have been able to delve into music, visiting tunes that were dormant from my pre-Switchback days or writing songs that are off in directions far from Marty and Brian. Rediscovering my guitar playing after all the years has been both a humbling challenge, but again a joyful opportunity. Livestreaming a weekly show has now given me the opportunity to hone my songwriting skills to the point that I am creating about two songs a week. Áine’s kindergarten teacher, Miss Rack, had me writing songs for her class Zoom meetings.
My reunion with my artwork has been a great pleasure. When I set off on Switchback, I knew I had to burn some bridges to keep heading forward. Art and the demand it has on being in one place for an extended period of time, took a prompt backseat. In many ways, drawing and painting allows me to express myself in ways that writing or performing never could. At the very least it is an unadulterated look at my soul and emotion.
Of course there are the “honey-do’s” that I actually am doing with being at home. Painting Nilles hall, our coach/studio/gathering house in the back has been waiting for quite a while. It is satisfying to scratch off a chore as accomplished. This may be the year the front fence is painted in its entirety. You can’t paint a fence from Colorado. I still have about 20 projects in front of me, all begging to be done while the weather is good. And then the other 20 that are inside. Enough projects for several pandemics, unfortunately.
Finally, there has been a more pointed use of the words “I love you” when addressing family and friends. The fragility of life has become more evident. It is done with the acknowledgment of the moment. This odd gift of the pandemic allows us all to collectively pause and take stock of our lives.
Do I miss Switchback? Yes. And do I miss seeing, performing for and connecting with all of you? Certainly. Livestreaming is a one-way street in many aspects. That energy connection live music brings, much like songwriting with Brian, is not there. It is a new way of riding a bike, but I am determined to do it. And I welcome, gratefully that return connection from all of you, if you wish to tune in.
Speaking of bikes, I have to get our bikes, last ridden before Aine was born to the bike shop to be tuned up. We have a chance to finally get out riding as a family for the first time.
As much as I wish the pandemic over, I wish it could go on forever.