Take To The Sea
What a year.
Almost exactly 365 days ago, I had just finished working tax season for my dad and my marriage relationship had ended. Although it was a long time coming, the end was abrupt. My life was altered radically. I needed to run away for a bit - to be by myself and to go to a safe place.
I took to the sea. Halifax - a second home.
During that 5-6 day trip, I begrudgingly took the time to really slow myself down and do nothing. Even though I'm someone who admittedly needs and likes having stimulus around at all times, I took time to really be alone and deal with things. I drove 15 hours all by myself, listened to Johnny Cash, Run DMC and Norm Macdonald's new (at that time) podcast. I laughed. I cried. I spent time with friends. I saw live music and recorded some of my own. I walked along Dartmouth streets and drank coffee and laughed on my own. I walked along long PEI shores. I sat by the Halifax harbour. I stared at the water.
And now, a year later, I am back again in this place that I dearly love.
It's hard to really take in, think about and fully comprehend everything that has gone down in my life since then. There are days that have seemed like symphonic overtures that were lightly floating just above the sound barrier. Notes cascading from cyan skies of hope, and seemingly stretching out into a new, bright reality.
On the other hand, there have been long, dark nights. Anxious sleeps. Old and new friends dying. Sudden wakings. A drink or two too many. A long winter with a lot of brooding and a full gamut of worry. Fleeting affections. A scope that seemed to stay inward for unhealthy periods of time. Wrestling matches with the mind. An absence of calmness.
But in the mustard-rich life of Matt McKechnie, there has never been a truer phrase than 'all things for a season'.
Lately, it seems like I have begun to emerge on the other side of the struggle and I have started to find the long-awaited light. I'm not sure what that light is, and I know I'm not perfect or that all problems or solved, but I feel like I have regained a sense of joy - a deeper, underlying solace.
I'm two days into my Halifax trip, and I'm letting the experience hit me like a truck. I'm letting the rains come, and I'm not reaching for the towel. I'm letting the warbly piano notes of my past creep in from distant, dusty rooms and dance around in my memory. I'm mourning the things that I've shoved away. I'm allowing myself to realize that I fucked many things up, but that I will never be too old to learn from my mistakes.
On my plane ride from Ottawa, I powered through most of 'Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die - Musings from the Road' by Willie Nelson. I highly recommend it to any eager mind.
What a life - Willie Nelson. A rambler and a gambler. And on the subject of fucking up, one of the most powerful quotes was written by his son Lukas:
"...It is ease that (Willie) exemplifies. Ease of mind, ease of heart....I see him make mistakes, and I watch them dissolve into lessons effortlessly for him. This what I have learned from him. I have learned how to find ease in every situation. It is the most valuable tool that I have in my life and has allowed me to quiet my mind enough to follow my bliss."
What a glorious word - ease. Isn't that what we all want? The ease and grace to float through this clusterfuck of a life? Amen and amen.
Oddly enough, on my first real trip to Halifax in 2001, I recorded a few songs with my friend Charles 'Chuck' Austin and one of them was called 'Quiet The Mind'. The words of Willie's book struck me deeply, as I soared 43000 feet above the earth in a metal tube. Maybe that's what the east coast is for me - a place where the quiet can come in and allow me not to fear it. The finding of my still, soft place.
I'm thankful for everyone in my life - no matter how small or large of a role they have played. For all roles have affected the cumulative character of who I will be one day, who I continue to strive to be, and who I am now. I want to be kind. I want to be a good listener, and I want to be a better giver. I want to inspire people. I don't want to look back over the soundbytes of my life and regret more than a few notes.
Ride me down easy, Lord.