Thursday, January 28, 2016

Tethered No Longer

I've found it far too difficult to write for the past months. I simply needed to take time to process heartbreak, and I'm finding that I'm not nearly over it yet at all. After my marriage ended, I fell deeply and madly in love with someone, and I was convinced that I had found my soulmate.

She was beautiful: More beautiful than any woman I've ever know. She had a natural grace that radiated through every pore, and I was entranced from the very moment I first saw her. Her eyes, impossibly big, dark, and lush, drew me into her soul and grounded me each time I gazed into them.

She was kind: She loved all creatures great and small, and made me feel that if someone as wonderful as her could love me, I must truly be special.

She was incredibly intelligent: Smarter than me, smarter than just about anyone I'd ever met. She read, researched and studied constantly, and was most comfortable when engaging in the deepest of philosophical discussions.

She was talented: She could play almost any instrument with ease. Her voice entranced me. And the music that she wrote spoke to all the pain and sadness in my life and showed me that someone else on this earth understood.

She was spiritually enlightened: She existed in a constant state of spiritual awareness, and had little patience for the mundane world. I liked that about her.

She loved nature: She grew more plants in our tiny backyard garden than I could keep up with. She was at peace outside, and we took hikes and walks together as much as possible. That's when we were at our happiest, I think.

I loved her more than I've ever thought I could love someone. I worshiped her, cherished her, and wanted to do everything I could to make a good life with her. Her name was Meg.

It's hard to look back now and see everything for what it really was, but there were problems from the very beginning. I brought in plenty of baggage after having lost my wife, my liver, and my father all within the short space of three years. She did too. We lived together for two years, hitting massive peaks and valleys along the way. When things were good, they were the best they've ever been. When things were bad, I was more confused, hurt, and frustrated than I've ever been. At no time were things ever stable enough to create a foundation to build upon, but I tried and tried and tried. I figured that if I really truly loved someone the rest could be worked out with time, patience, and empathy. I was wrong. In the end, I was not able to give her what she needed, and I came to learn that after two years of this mind-numbingly intense relationship, she simply never felt that same about me as I did about her.

My friends tell me to move on, to date, to have fun. After all, I've been through more in my life than most will ever have to experience, and I deserve some happiness. But, why date? What's the point? To go spend a bunch of time and money on someone that I know I'm not into? Meg was the rarest combination of everything I loved in a woman. I'd never met anyone that I felt so connected with on every level. I know I may not find that again in this lifetime, so I see little point in settling for second best.

She opened me up to my true self and showed me that it's okay to embrace my weirdness, talk openly about my spirituality, and she ignited a spark of creativity within me that I hadn't seen in many, many years. And we try to remain friends, which is a blessing. It's not easy for me, but I'm trying. There's not one single moment during the day that I'm not in pain over losing the greatest love I've ever known. So what's left for me now?

I went into the holiday season with a great sense of loss and dread of the impending season. After all, it would be the very first time that I had been alone in twenty years. And somehow along the way this ended up being one of the most fulfilling Christmases I've ever had, as I tried to train my focus outward instead of dwelling on my own misery. I began to play my own music again out in public for the first time in about fifteen years, thank to the behest of my dear friend Jenny Parrott. Here's the first of those shows, and the subsequent talk I gave about my transplant journey. Heady stuff for a bar, but the patrons of Dozen Street found it to be a welcome distraction from their usual fare.

Soon after, Jenny asked my little Christmas band to join her on the show:

...which led to the club's owner, Maydee, asking if we would play her holiday cookie party. When this happened, a light bulb went off. I reached out to my partners at Donate Life Texas to see what we could do with this platform. I knew I wanted to do something for sick kids stuck in the hospital at Christmastime, as this was my reality for many years as a small child. Soon, we had a plan: Dell Children's Hospital has a new program they were trying to get off the ground, and they needed help to do so. In a nutshell, every time a child dies and donates their organs, the hospital wanted to raise a Donate Life flag in their honor. Once the transplant process was complete, they would bring the flag down and present it to the donor family. They simply needed funding to pay for the flags. It was an easy sell; just as we do with our annual Coats for Kids drive at KVUE, I'd simply promote the cost per unit: "Your donation of twenty-three dollars will pay for one flag per donor family."

We were joined by my friends from the KVUE, Texas Organ Sharing Alliance and Dell Children's that night. Everyone had an absolute blast. And once the dust settled, we raised three years' worth of funding for our cause. Very satisfying work indeed! Here's the full story from KVUE:

When all was said and done, I played no less than seven shows within that month, from Austin Dive bars to swanky downtown Houston clubs for millionaire oil execs.

Between these gigs and a nice little outside work project I stayed very busy indeed. And it made me realize something valuable: that I really, really cherish the little time that I actually do spend alone. So my new years' resolution was simple: While focusing on being more present for friends and family, I will strive to take more time to look inward. To meditate. To be physically active. To write. And so far the first two songs I've written this year have been very satisfying:

For the first time, I've found that I'm able to contextualize what happened to me without it feeling forced. I've been able to open myself up to a clear communication with that channel, and in doing so, have been able to write and record both of these songs within an hours' time.

As the panic of being alone settles, I am realizing that this is exactly what I need right now. I learned so much during my journey and now I simply want to pursue synthesis. Try as I have to hide from it, my reality now is a wholly spiritual one. And the spiritual path is often a lonely one. I'm cool with that.

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