Well it’s back to school for the kids this week. Not mine, I haven’t got any. Poor things. Of all the things I’ve seen and done in life, hung it out there on the road, stuck it out in the woods, mindlessly and carelessly, sometimes even a bit recklessly chasing what seemed the next room to go in… there is literally nothing I look back on and still feel a little undertow of anxiety over like remembering the first day of school. That mere flash from 40 years ago where Little Scotty Turtleneck had to walk in the prison gates aaaagain and find out what kind of shit was going to go down every day THIS year while I was trying to learn how to learn how to fit into a box I did not see as my life. I was a kid, and when you’re a kid you don’t know things change. You don’t know the road goes somewhere. You don’t know it will eventually be up to you who you are, what you can be, where you go, and how you will stand to be treated by the others in the room, you know what I mean? That you will decide what of you is worth trading for what you get. What you’ll put up with to achieve a goal YOU set for you.
You just know your whole evening is homework and tomorrow that bus comes and you’ll get on again and go somewhere you don’t want to go to get hassled by endless hallways of other kids who seem to have what you don’t, to do things you don’t want to do with no idea of what – if anything – could ever come of any of it. That you’ll make it out. That there was any other way “out” could be. Just along for the ride. That’s what it’s like being a kid for a lot of them, I can tell you this because I eventually taught them guitar for years and they talked to me like they didn’t to the parents and authority figures in their lives.
These days I drive by the schools on the way into town and I think about the kids and a small part of me deep inside panics for them. I hope they make it out. I hope the parents at home genuinely care like mine did. And I hope you who have forgotten or maybe were made of sturdier stock to begin with, or really did have just wonderful experiences there will take your kids seriously when they tell you they’re not. Someday that all will turn to strength and confidence and drive and perspective and they’ll be like an already honed blade and a force of nature and have a great life where problems don’t bother them because they’re free and happy and lived through those years of adversity training at the hands of others. They are the garden of tomorrow to bloom. But they have to survive first. Buy them a guitar and teach them how to write a song. It might save their life in ways you can’t understand. And teach them they matter and life has chapters and it only gets better. Lie if you have to to say that, so they can get there for themselves and maybe make it their truth.
Speaking of surviving against the odds, we’re all getting older together Birdsong fam. If you’re along for the ride with us in any way I try to share the magic but sometimes I have to share news that’s not great… some of you in the Birdsong scene know of Ben, kind of a legend as a long time Birdsong collector and responsible for some of the wildest custom orders we’ve done – many now out in circulation. But we know Ben as an angel, and those stories will be told in time. For now, Ben is at home with family there regaining himself after a massive heart attack a couple of weeks ago. He seems in OK spirits, he’s a force of nature, but this is big and he needs all the good vibes we all can send his way. So for Ben Bernales, if you would, hoist one or raise a hand or just think warm thoughts of your own for a good man. Ben - from all of us at Birdsong and on behalf of the extended family, we are wishing you health and healing to your highest good. If that’s one more year of fun or of it’s ten or thirty… whatever is the best for you, that is what we wish. Also the peace to accept and just do the best you can as you are able, and the presence to be at peace with this time whatever it brings. We send strength to those around you at this time. We send you these wishes, our love, and our gratitude.
Still in here working through August, day off here and there, shorter lists, but it feels good to be catching up. It’s over 100 every day but life serves us best when it has hardened us just enough to not be bothered, not be discouraged easily, not be convinced we’re as weak as we feel sometimes. Get up, go stand in the sun. Feel the heat on your skin. Today, things are going to happen.
Listening to: Jim Stricklan, Colorado; Kevin Locke, Keepers of the Dream; Bruce Springsteen, Born To Run autobiography audiobook; and a bunch of random guitar jazz, and Noel Gallagher interviews.