That's the amount of travel time that I spent getting to and from a place where I spoke and sang on Friday night.
9.5 hours to get there and 10.5 hours getting home, all for 1 hour of singing/speaking.
I am now sitting on the flight home typing this blog as the last few of those hours go by. Outside the window I see clouds and the setting sun, even though when today's travel began the sun was just barely starting it's ascent into the sky.
I sit and think. Why do I do what I do? Why would I travel so much knowing that there is a high likelihood of men with broad shoulders sitting next to me on planes, forcing me to lean like the Tower of Pisa for an entire flight or women at airline check in counters, who don't like the look of me and the guitar on my back, who give me a hard time about carrying my guitar onto the plane or people leaving me in the cold waiting for them to pick me up while my luggage surrounds my feet, or many breakfasts, lunches and dinners that will consist of only the peanuts or crackers or cookies the plane supplies?
Because, each time I do, I come off of the stage and speak to the people that were sprinkled throughout the audience who connected with what I sang.
Brokeness Joy Grief Love Excitement Happiness Relief Exhaustion Hope Longing Praise
All of these things I wrap carefully into songs. Weaving them bit by bit with melody and lyric, hoping for that moment where, what I have learned, what I know, what I question, and what I search for meets the same in someone else and the two of us can share our stories and see that we are not alone.
Once again, this happened on Friday night and once again I left knowing that this is what I am supposed to do.
So, now, as I look out the window, the sun now hidden until morning, I see the un-countable dots of light that are street lamps and signs illuminating cities where people finish their days. I think of how many are celebrating or smiling or surrounded or hopeful or giving or laughing or satisfied or at peace. Then, I think of how many of them are feeling isolated or lonely or hopeless or un-championed or unnoticed or unwanted or unheard or unvoiced. Maybe there are those out there for whom my words are their words. Maybe their story is my story.
I travel looking for these people. Then, I step onto the stage and I hand over my words, hoping that they are present in the audience so I can say, "Here, these are for you. I think we share a bit of the same story."
So, if you are there, out in the crowd of faces at my next show please say hello. Let me know that you are one of the No-Longer-Lonely's. We could stick together, all of us, and make quite a rag-tag group.