Artists must have troubles. There must be depression, angst, love lost, anger or some sort of torment driving the art. It comes from the heart, whether in painting, musical note or written word. Artists are also daydreamers, they are passionate and they are flawed. Throw in a love of the road, a desire for isolation, a quest for pain in the midst of love and you have an artist. Or at least you have this artist. This is the story of one artist and some of those dreams in the note of life.
I dream. I dream constantly. I’ve been a daydreamer my whole life. When I was in the third grade I wrote one-page short stories about my dreams.
All of them were about being the fastest boy on earth who traveled the world to display my amazing running skills. I recall one story that featured a young Lance sprinting across the Great Wall of China.
That young boy grew up. He was never the fastest boy in the world, but he actually did OK during a modest running career.
He continued writing; that’s pretty obvious if you’re reading this.
And of course he kept traveling. He still hasn’t made it to the Great Wall of China but he’s been to the top of the Eiffel Tower twice, inside the Coliseum in Rome, proposed to his future wife across from London’s Big Ben, walked the beaches of Normandy, the streets of Memphis and had Fort Worth cross his mind many lonely nights.
That boy grew up from those early Arkansas days. Now, he has a Memphis soul, brash Texan heart and British mentality.
That little boy daydreamed about wonderful places he would visit, awesome experiences he’d have, races he’d win, people he’d meet and moments he’d conquer. All of them, in some way, have a home on the road and a soul in music.
Music? Isn’t this all about travel and a little boy with daydreams? Sure, but it’s the music that brings me back to those moments lived and future experiences still-to-be conquered.
As I write, Coldplay videos are streaming on YouTube. Early Coldplay takes me back to one of my first travel loves: England. The love, the want, the pain, the desire – it all comes through in Chris Martin’s voice and the smooth sounds of Coldplay.
I hear Coldplay and it’s May 2005, I’m walking the streets of Bath and seeing the band on the front page of the newspaper, the day before their next album hits store shelves.
For the next few years after that trip I lived in Coldplay’s music as I fed a newborn and dreamed about the next trips we’d eventually take when our bank account recovered from starting a family.
Those travels did begin again. And music continued playing a role.
“I was scared, I was scared, tired and unprepared. … If you go, if you go and leave me down here on my own, then I’ll wait for you.”
That’s life in a nutshell. We don’t always admit it, but we’re all scared. We joke with strangers about “the daily grind,” we look forward to catching up on our TV shows after the kids go to bed, and, as Loverboy sang in the classic 1980s song, we are definitely working for the weekend.
I recently had a conversation with a college student. I asked her what she wanted to do after college. “Marketing,” she said. Of course she did. Everyone wants to go into marketing.
I wanted to scream at her: “Travel the world. Hike a mountain. Backpack Europe like every other college kid. Write a book, a song, a play; hell, learn to play guitar and busk in subway stations in London and New York City just to say you did.”
I didn’t. I smiled, got up and left the room. Everyone has it figured out, anyway. Get a degree, get a job, find a spouse, have a family, buy a house too big, a couple of luxury cars too expensive, watch every cool show on HBO so they can talk about it on Facebook, join a book club with friends to get away from the kids, have a poker night to keep from going insane, wash, rinse and repeat.
And that was just last week.
Monday comes again and here’s Coldplay wanting to fix me. “When you get what you want but not what you need. When you feel tired but you can’t sleep. Stuck in reverse. And the tears come streaming down your face. When you leave something you can’t replace. When you love someone but it goes to waste. Could it be worse? Lights will guide you home.”
But where’s home?
Home isn’t a place but a state of being. Is it that elusive novel you always say you’ll write, last year’s Oscar winners you still “need” to watch, the annual trip to the beach or that bonus at work you “must” earn?
“If you never try you’ll never know.”
Do you ever think the grass is greener on the other side? It’s not. It never is, never will be. But here’s where that saying is off the mark.
There isn’t another side. The world is round, right? When did we decide that there are somehow sides on a round object? Things keep moving, life keeps marching on.
Life is a constant. The grass is green because we watered it, nourished it and had a little sunshine come our way, otherwise known as luck. Sometimes the grass gets a little patchy. Those spots require fertilizer and extra care.
Sometimes they flourish, and sometimes they die. It is what it is.
But you know what? Things just keep rolling. Sometimes you have to move to the next spot. It’s not searching out a greener side of the fence. It’s just surviving.
It’s a bit cliché, but we really do only have one shot to get this life right. And if we are seeking that proverbial greener side of the fence, well, who cares? Nike told us Just Do It, and Jon Bon Jovi sang, “It’s My Life.”
And that college student? Nah, she doesn’t have it figured out. She is confident enough to get a start on things. I think she’ll do OK, even if she already understands the American Dream: “Everyone needs marketing, right?”
“I was lost,” Chris Martin tells me.
I was lost.