I, (Jared) have been reading a wonderful book that’s the equivalent of chocolate and puppies on a page. Chocolate Puppies. Good name for a band. The book is The Oak Papers. A thoughtful read that’s all at once a contemplative reminder to be still and a call to run headlong into all that is around us. A tender book that found me in the aisles while thinking about getting coffee or perhaps reflecting about the one I just had. I exist between those two states.
The author, James Canton, essentially turns his journaling of frequent visits to an 800-year-old Honywood Oak in North Essex, England into an invitation. An invitation to have a great extended seat at the symphony of life and symbiosis that buzzes, crawls, flies, chirps, and sings all around him. A reminder we are ‘of’ nature. Not so much ‘in’ nature. The Oak stands as an elder and teacher in the midst of it all. For some surreal perspective, the towering tree would have been just a sapling when the Magna Carta was signed in 1215.
For nearly 2 years, the tree is his teacher as he listens and observes. It’s a window to a sacred council. I recommend it. Or just find your nearest Oak, lean against it and start your own conversation. I think James would be quite alright with that.
We need each other as Oaks in ways we’ll never understand, realize (or sometimes admit). To be an Oak and to have someone(s) as an Oak.
It’s easy to reflexively resort to crashing on our dualistic couches – dizzy from another day of war waging for or against moral relativism.
Everything is right or wrong.
Worthy or unworthy.
Some days sitting on the edge of your bed trying to finish the last line of a bridge in a new song feels like the most insignificant investment of energy.
Hearts are being broken all around.
Rage dressed up in all sorts of rhetoric.
Who do we hate today?
Hypocrisy unabated the likes of which we haven’t seen since last Friday.
I lack the adjectives for this version of reality.
There are reasons to weep.
Life is hard.
You’re too hard on yourself.
That 800 year old Oak has stood through centuries of this.
Gibson slinging Prophet, Bill Mallonee says, “You can count on knowing loneliness on a first name basis.” We turn to many forms of solace. In bottles and pills – or books and songs. They all can be solutions in their own ways. Some are just less harmful.
I’ve had many Oaks these past several years that I’m immensely grateful for. Folks that have been supportive inspirations and all around encouragers against the assault of the daily dread. From days when the headlines are crippling to when you can’t find your keys.
Albums, artists, authors, songs, poems, paintings, conversations, things said and unsaid.
A well placed lyric. A turn of phrase over that 6 to 4 chord change.
Wizards of wisdom and nuance.
Great trees of teachers to lean against, learn from and listen to.
Who would have thought that living and being authentic is ‘fighting the good fight.’ It’s brave to be yourself. I mean I’ve been a folk singer in a rock band wanting to be a comedian in a metal band. It’s complicated.
It’s been wearying few decades. An abduction and a house fire, just to hit the high points, still linger like landmines of grief and 11 years of Jennifer’s relentless chronic illness can make you forget what life used to look like.
Is it more than just waking up everyday hoping to feel good enough to walk to the mailbox?
She is an Oak among oaks.
Her strength to love and burn bright is beyond all synonyms for inspirational. An Angel Oak. Her songs capture it though.
That’s where finishing that bridge comes in. The empowering balm of song. It’s healing when I do it and it’s medicine when someone else draws a tired breathe and does the same. That creation finds its way across the zeros and ones and brings hope for another day.
We had good year though. Played some favorite places and plenty of new ones. The Stray, Midtown, The Paisley Pear, The Clover Room, Buffalo Grass Music Hall, St. Ambrose Cellars, C3, Carnegie Center for the Arts, Amarillo Art Institute and many more. Our Midwest tour on behalf of longtime supporters High Plains Public Radio, was rich and brought new rooms and friends to us.
It’s wild when you realize you’re playing that bridge to an audience 1,200 miles from the edge of your bed.
We’re grateful for the ones we’ve learned from. Whether they even knew it or not. Some willingly, some maybe reluctantly and a few probably regrettably. Apologies to those Oaks. Us saplings can be a handful I imagine. 🥟 🥧
The Oak @fernandosilveriosolis reminds us of that there’s something in art’s magic that can hold us whether we are fleeing from being human or needing to be held and reminded of it.
You’re doing great. Reaching, digging, expressing and chronicling your time here on this weird, violent, beautiful, dumb ball, doing amazing and moving work. Thank you.
Don’t try to make it perfect. Just make it. If you expect more from something other that just the enjoyment of doing it, there’s going to be trouble.
Stay kind and love loud.
I hope those things still have power.
Merry belated Christmasment and Happy New Yearing to ya’ll.
I wrote a new song the other day. I need to go finish the bridge.