I don’t know why there’s a picnic table in Neshaminy Creek, but I’m making it mine for the moment.
I’ve been looking for renewal. I usually find what I’m looking for. The hard part is just figuring out what it is. My signal-to-noise ratio had been out-of-whack recently. Getting in my own way. Succeeding at the day’s tasks but not always showing up emotionally. Happiness without peace. I think living next to the ocean helped me to quiet my mind down enough to hear my soul. My soul was saying it needed a recharge. Less screens, more breeze.
The moment from the trip that I recall with the most depth is the night we were watching that really long episode of Louie. Every commercial break, I’d run out to the beach with my beer and look at the moon shining over the ocean, breathing in the night air. Then I’d run back in, shake the sand off, and watch the next act.
Brown hat, yellow aviators, red corduroy pants, lime green “The Goose Is An Artist” shirt, black Toms with a colorful pattern on the inside. I look like me and I feel like me. I am getting my recharge at my favorite place, Tyler State Park. I’m relieved to see how much beauty is available to me back home. Life isn’t only beautiful when you’re on vacation. Wherever you are, work day or not, you have to go look for it and not wait for it to find you.
I had THAT moment a few times. I think it’s called bliss. I transcend. My body and soul feel high and free. Cleansed. It happens for a few seconds, then I ride it out like a wave. I try to stay in the moment and not open up the Pandora’s Box of worries and other scattered thoughts. They’ll be there next time I look for them. They might even be sorted out in my subconscious in the meantime. I’ve experienced that in many different parts of life, but nature is my most consistent source. I used to regularly get there while improvising music. I should do more of that.
I parked at the far end near the stables, walked over the covered bridge, past the disused hostel (I imagine that an amazing party preceded the new No Trespassing signs and that there are discarded t-shirts, panties, and roaches under the floorboards), up the very steep hill that helps me gauge how out-of-shape I am that day, past the awe-inspiring overlook that faces Swamp Road and Rose Bank Winery, down Dairy Hill Trail, across the walking bridge, through the forest that leads to the community college, through the courtyard next to Tyler Hall (1932) that houses Tyler Formal Gardens, into the college for a cup of coffee.
I try to read more of “White Bicycles” but I’m having trouble focusing. These college girls look like kids to me now; when did that happen? Focus. Down the winding path that borders the archery field that Pappy The Dog used to love running freely through, over the old stone bridge, into the paved path surrounded by wildflowers and a chorus of insects that inspired my song “crickets surround.” It’s a soothing cacophony and it makes me want to set up a tent and live among it. I used to dream of coming here with a beautiful girl who appreciates it as much as I do.
The smells of the park are rich and intoxicating. The creek, the honeysuckles, the deep forests, something like a wood stove in the distance. It’ll get ya high, man.
I remember the day I was supposed to be seeing a math tutor at college but went wandering through the woods instead. Finding a path that connected to Tyler Park was thrilling. I was not yet a driver, so it was a big deal to have access to my favorite place three days a week. I recall studying there once. I don’t imagine it happened often. I even managed to fail English. Just like Ralph Wiggum did! I’d previously failed Gym in high school. There I was; a guy too busy writing and hiking to pass English and Gym. Unpossible!
I stopped at the brown walking bridge on the Nature Trail. These days, you have to limbo under a horizontal tree to get there. It was built about ten years ago and turned into a public art piece, filled with Sharpee-based insights and insults, museum-quality illustrations next to cartoon dicks. It was even written about in the local paper. I took my girlfriend there and she drew a beautiful, complex pattern as well as some musings on her past cancer experiences.
One day, somebody came in and painted it all brown. The Boy Scouts or the parks department. As if the trees had called to complain about the cocks. Pissed me off, but then I did something about it. I’d already photographed my favorite parts, so I put a few dozen highlights from the old bridge on my otherwise vacant Flickr account. Now people can find them if they really want to. I think I’ll make a shirt of Marcella’s cool design one day.
Meanwhile, artists and rebellious teens see that brown paint as a clean slate. An invitation to create more. Have at it, artists and teens! I made four contributions yesterday. You should go look for them. Bring a Sharpie. Maybe leave one, too. I returned a quote that I’d seen there around 2008: “The difference between the ordinary and the miraculous is your undivided attention.” I added “Click Here!” and a mouse cursor next to the quote in homage to the technology addiction that so many of us have.
It’s tomorrow and I’m eating the first meal I’ve cooked myself since returning from my two weeks with the Di Sandros/Babyaks/Robertsons. Whose idea was THIS? I’d be better off eating Polaroids of the meals they made me.
I played a gig with Crocker yesterday. It was going poorly and I went through the familiar wrecking-ball-of-self-doubt bullshit. The John Lennon/Dennis The Menace side of me was on the verge of emerging. I wanted to abuse the audience. I mean, how miserable are these people that they won’t clap when people sing a song for them?! Peter Griffin: “Who hurt you??” I held back. I looked at Crocker and breathed in a little of his slim-Buddha vibe. We took a break and I looked at my iPhone for some information that would fix my life. Like other drugs, the iPhone cannot fix your life.
The only thing to do was to play for me and my friend instead of the audience. Some red wine also arrived around this time. All of the sudden, the music took over. The music takes over pretty much every time. You stop paying attention to the crowd and you step into the music like a pair of comfortable old boots and ya start stomping away. This is when the audience starts attention to you.
Nick played at least ten songs I’d never played in my life. I just went with it. I like the challenge. That spontaneity factor is how I choose my collaborators. I get bored without it. I arrived home around midnight with free food and booze in my body and a wad of cash in my pocket that hadn’t been there before. Not bad for a Monday.