Wednesday, March 19, 2008

He helped me find my way back home.

Tonight, Cam, Sam and I are going to see one of my favorite musicians perform. Shawn Mullins is playing a show, open to people ages six and up, at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.

Shawn's music is very meaningful to me. I have sung his songs as Lullabies to Sam.
Everything is gonna be alright, rock-a-bye, rock-a-bye. Everything is gonna be alright, rock-a-bye, rock-a-bye.

I am emotion. I am blue. Love is an ocean. I'm anchored in you. Love is an ocean... And I am a dreamer. So you sent me away. Sometimes we dreamers just get in the way. But I've always known, since I was a child that the road is my home and my spirit is wild. And I have my memories and I've got lots of time and I'm stoned in San Francisco with you on my mind. I said I'm stoned in Sam Francisco. I am emotion. I am blue. Love is an ocean. I'm anchored in you. Love is an ocean...

And quintessentially:
Sharing with us what he knows, his shining eyes are big and brown and all around him water flows. The world to him is new. The world to him is new. To touch a face. To kiss a smile. New eyes see no race. The essence of a child. The essence. He's born to shimmer. He's born to shine. He's born to radiate. He's born to live. He's born to love. He's born to never hate.

Shawn's words offer reassurance and assurance that we dreamers aren't alone and aren't the only ones who love with our whole heart. He sings of the beauty of nature, of peace, love and acceptance. Many, many themes that resonate with me.

As I've written about before, I have felt drawn to live in this part of the world. Since I was a little girl, the flower girl in my Aunt Maria and Uncle Jeff's wedding, I knew I belonged here. But the road was so long. Shawn helped me find my way back home.

I first saw him perform live at an Honor the Earth benefit in Lawrence, Kansas, in February or March of 2000, while visiting my friends, Janice and Bobby. At the time, I was trying to figure out how to survive in a job that was making me miserable.

I was over-
whelmed, trying to make it as the single mother of a three-
year-old, on my own in, St. Louis. I was terrified because I was unable to meet the demands and expectations of my employer, which allowed me to care for us financially and still be able to do what I felt I needed to do to care for myself and my son physically and emotionally. And the work was meaningless to me.

Shawn sang a song called, Something to Believe in. I know you've got something to believe in, down deep inside your desperate soul. Hey friend, don't you stop believing in dreams that you had when you were just a lad.

After the show, I bought Beneath the Velvet Sun and his earlier smash hit, Soul's Core. Throughout the coming weeks and days, when I needed support, encouragement, reassurance and understanding, I could always get it from Shawn.

That April 1st, I quit the job that was making me miserable, paid that month's rent, packed the car and took off for California, with my son, in search of the dream I had when I was just a lad.

It turned out the country was entering a recession I hadn't been paying attention to. I didn't find a job in California then but Sam and I had a remarkable journey. It was a time I will always remember. I intend to write about soon.

Later, while working as the director of marketing for a national consumer advertising campaign in Des Moines, Iowa. I was still miserable. I actually really liked my role at work and with the support of my parents, wasn't struggling so much to care for myself and Sam. But I started to feel that the work I was doing wasn't directly helping the people I had gone to work for, the little guy, struggling to get by. I also started to feel bad about things I learned our industry was doing to the earth and its creatures. Finally, I didn't feel welcome or accepted in my very conservative organization. I actually started to feel attacked for speaking out against what I felt were unfair constraints.

I knew I wanted to do something else but wasn't quite sure what or how to make it happen. I knew I loved music and had often thought that I'd enjoy helping connect musicians who have a beautiful message with people who need to hear that message. To that end, I bought a pass to attend the South by Southwest music industry conference in Austin.

My favorite part of the festival was something I hadn't know about before going. Shawn Mullins was there with a band called The Thorns. I went to the show with some family and friends and afterwards, wanted to thank Shawn for all that his words had done for me. I ended up awkwardly telling him how I'd quit a job after seeing one of his shows. This seemed to surprise him and leave him feeling more concerned than glad.

Fast forward a few years. In 2006, I'm living and working in Chicago with Cameron and Sam. I have stopped working in advertising and am actively pursuing more meaningful work. My friend, Melissa and I went to see Shawn's show. After this show, I wanted to make sure he knew I was ok. I thanked him for helping people. I said he helped people who wanted to help people. He said, great or something like that.

I haven't done a good job of speaking directly to someone I admire so much so I thought I'd try writing this blog entry. I want Shawn to know that I have found love and happiness and am living my childhood dream, surrounded by mountains and forests and the ocean. I want him to know that I've found work as a child advocate.

On Honeydew, his 2008 release, he sings of people like me and like the kids I try to serve.
She always sang with her whole heart... He was ragged. He was rolling like a stone. In the dirty, city streets that he called home...

Shawn says:
I know I'm lucky to sing my songs. And if you want to, you can sing along.

I want to thank him for all he's done to:
Help me find my way back home.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just found this post while googling for some of Shawn's lyrics that popped to my head. I read what you wrote here, and I just wanted to let you know that I found it very moving.

Good stuff.