Saturday, December 31, 2011

Amazing Messy Memories

(Originally posted on 8/29/10. Updated 5/27/12)

It seems like Sunday afternoons tend to become times of inventory for me. They usually find me listening to music, often from years gone by, with no TV or books or conversation. I love these times. I need these times. Life moves too quickly and the noise I surround myself with numbs my ears from hearing the gentle voice that comes from somewhere outside of time. It's not uncommon for me to look up and realize that several hours have gone by while I have been lost in memories, thoughts and questions.

These times remind me of a different period in life when i was always on the verge of something new; unsettled but moving forward. Certain sounds, like falling rain, or even smells, like the crisp scent of the air in the first days of Fall, take me to locations in my head. Funny thing is, when I think about it, some of the places and times I go to weren't particularly good. In fact, they are often filled with uncertainty, doubts and, at times, even depression. But, I need to recall those moments. They help me remember who I was and who I am; where I have been and where I am. They help me remember to feel. As we get older, we become more settled, but sometimes that comes at the cost of not feeling as much. Life can become static and almost too even.

Memory is a powerful thing. It's a deeply spiritual thing. It can bring back those we have lost and connect us to times that will never come again. It can also remind us of places to which we never want to return. Ignoring our memories does no good. When we choose to forget, we choose to repeat mistakes, fall for lies and love the same wrong person (just with different faces) over and over again. Then we wake up on a Monday morning, having great difficulty facing another week of the same.

Thank God for Sunday afternoons. This past week was relentless in its march through time. I just don't think I was ready for it. It rattled me a little - forced me to stop. And I couldn't be more thankful. I don't know if you're anything like me, but I too often fill up my life with events and people and books and shows and, well, the list goes on and on. These are all good things and living like this makes things easier. But it can also sedate the soul. We are all meant to be so much more than this.

I want to reconcile who I was with who I am a little more. It's amazing to truly connect the journey's watermarks. It's true, I have made mistakes. We all have. But it is also true that I have lived many triumphs. And I've been given countless gifts.

Funny things is, hardly any of those gifts I hold to involve material things (Though, I still remember the feeling of driving the first car I bought after moving to Nashville). No, most of the gifts I have stored in my memory involve loving well.

I remember laughing uncontrollably while writing one of my first songs with my Aunt in Baltimore at my grandparents' house. I remember going to “Christmas Village” with my family when I was young (And I remember every Christmas morning). Then , there were the “theme” dinners we used to do. They were always crazy and we required that everyone dress in character. I remember going forward at the Rock Church in Towson, Maryland when I was 15. That night changed the course of my life .

There are so many moments-having drinks with friends, singing at my mom's wedding, recording my first record, college days at the dorm, bringing my dog home for the first time, seeing the band “Love Coma” live, watching Mike Birbiglia in a tiny club in New York, falling in love with Jessica when I heard her sing “There's a Place for Us” during auditions for “West Side Story,” taking care of Charles (a mentally challenged man who live with me for several years after his parents died), singing live for the first time, playing baseball with my dad, coaching baseball, going to my first Christmas Eve party with my brothers (They had been meeting for years...I was finally old enough to come), working at “My Friend's House” group home, playing in the creek with my childhood friend Susie, spending entire Saturday afternoons traveling around Nashville looking for new music at record stores like Tower and Great Escape, Monday night football with my friends in Baltimore during the 8 months I lived there again after college, listening to my grandparents sing, and on and on.

I love Sunday afternoons. Yes, they remind me of some regrets. But, mostly they just remind me that, in the words of Michael Been and The Call, “I still believe.” I still believe that this whole thing is an amazing, messy gift from God. I just need to take the time more often to unwrap the gift. It's always there.

I hope I never allow the noise of everyday life to fade these truths, these memories.


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