It seems like so much has happened in the last thirty days while on tour with Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys. That’s because so much has happened! It can be difficult relating the sure volume of experiences that we live out while on the road from the sites and lush landscapes to the venues, villages, and townspeople. The culture is as vibrant as the array of puffy white and speckled animals against the rolling green pastures. We played 29 shows in 32 days time, each and every one diverse and rewarding. I swam in my birthday suit on three separate occasions in North Atlantic Seas. We spent an average of about 3 hours in the van every day, sometimes up to 7 hours, and rarely anything less than an hour and a half. Humans are not meant to spend so much time sedentary stuck inside a vehicle. But we combat the trials and tribulations of riding in Gerry’s 2001 White Ford Transit Van with a slew of van-activities. We all like to read and write and think and stare into the vastness of the lands - I also like to get some van-aerobics in at least 5-10 minutes a day. You know: sitting upright and focusing on proper posture - ankles to knees to thighs to hip to spine to the crown of your skull. Now contract your tummy, back and side body muscles; inhale, hold, exhale, repeat. You get the idea. The van is large enough to even stand upright and do some modified warrior poses and simple tai chi movements. Staying active is hard to achieve due to our schedules, still, we do pretty well. Through discipline, consciousness and will, one can make anything become possible.
Usually, I have difficulty being musically creative and active. It’s not the routine is hard so much that it doesn’t provide much personal space or free time (plus hours on end in the van). Perhaps (certainly) it also has to do with my varying mental states of managing life on the road contrasted against my desire to start to settle into different life routines. But these past thirty days have actually been chock full of creative spurs! I wrote a complete song while on an 8 hour drive day to a gig in the western part of Cork County. I also finished off a few other songs that I had begat way back when, learned a handful of other numbers AND worked up new material with Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys!
Another thing about living on the road is the sacrifice on a number of relationships that you just can’t maintain as well as you could if you were based in one city, one house for more than a couple days a week. The flipside to this is that you deepen your social communities and global friendships. Though the times we travelers actually spend together be seldom, the experiences are worth their weight in gold and will stay with you forever. But life is surely a balancing act: diversification in accordance to the source seeking sustainable growth and enlightenment, n’estce-pas?
Music and the road go together like soil and seed . We all like to listen to music on the road. Not all the time, but when time and energy are concentrated fully on musicians works of art - minds expand and the neurological explosions course through our veins in iron and electricity. It can be one of the most pure forms of therapy - indeed, the most profound I have ever experienced personally. A few days ago, I got word that my sister had given birth to a healthy baby boy. The labor was trying, but both mama and baby are strong and healthy! I couldn’t help but let the flurry of emotions of life/ death/ desire/ happenstance/ love just come flooding through me! I started off by putting on The Ollam’s self titled debut album to start the flow. The rolling Scottish hills during this part of the drive mixed with the band’s super groovy, celtic eclectic fusion as the soundtrack was just what the doctor ordered. I then put on Seth Bernard’s Reconciliation and the Mystical Beyonda for some inspiration and emotional stimulation which led me to processing more of my recent life’s experiences. The album deals a lot with life and death and how to heal and process the immense array of emotions. Earlier this year (while on tour) my Nana died; then later (on a separate tour), my Bumpa passed on. I processed it in a healthy manner as I always aspire to do. But just as quickly as they took their last breathe, little Micah James Shelner breathed his first. The circle continues on through cosmic revolutions.
But life doesn’t just happen, then go away. It stays with you forever; the good, the bad, and the tragic. And we’ll continue processing life’s accumulation of experiences the rest of our lives. We can either let them lift us up or make us crumble. It depends on our perspective; how we choose to view the world at large. It matters not if you live in a house in some town or somewhere out on the open road - we alone control the perception of our own lives, though we are not the only ones who influence it. So what filter setting do you implement ? Somber? Ecstatic? Blue? Happy-go-lucky? I try to keep mine perpetually on the “Sunny Side of Life” setting and let the weather take it where it blows.