Yesterday I wrote the words, “If your doubt trumps your joy then you must take the necessary time and energy to discover not only the source of such crippling doubt, but also consider what perpetuates an absence of joy.” While joy has been far from absent in my life lately, something has been missing in recent days since my life has settled down. I recently completed a three week, 22-day-tour with Tough Mudder, beginning in Elkhart Lake, WI, and ending in Brooklyn, MI. While this work adventure was one of the more memorable of the brands that I have rented myself out to, filled with adventures, beautiful and not so beautiful people, it was Labor Day Weekend prior that has seemingly been lost in translation.
The difference between a festival family and a family takes places once you depart from the festival grounds, and the months, years, thereafter. In the days following Summer Dance our family who attended has exploded with positive energy and love most simply measured by an ongoing group text, ripe with life for the past month. While working 12-14 hour days building Tough Mudder, 40-50 text, bubbling with excitement comforted me at each glance. When friends of friends or even strangers get blanketed by our umbrella of love, one of the things that stands out the most to them is the frequency and length of hugs given.
While we span across a number of states and countries, our core is traced to the same hometown, West Bloomfield, MI., where many of us met while attending elementary or middle school. We never thought too much of it until we went out into the world and people were surprised by our close group of 50 personal friends, that not only stay in touch, but regularly take over dance floors and capture the interest of even the most talented and famous musicians, like Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. We all saw the Zeros at Royal Oak Music Theatre, our home venue so-to-speak, and after gifting lead singer Alex Ebert (his name isn’t Edward Sharpe) a Good Sign, we twisted up a few and got to kick it with Jade and most of the others that sing the song “Home” that many of you love, but may not know who to thank for. Pictures were taken, hugs given, but most of all, we had made a genuine connection with some good people that use their gifts to inspire and comfort the world. A few months later the Zeros were performing in Louisville, when Alex spotted a Good Sign in the crowd during his performance of “Home”. He related the Good Sign to being home: to being comforted by the people and places that you love, find comfort, inspiration and joy within. These people are my home.
Our family is offering a home to all those that wander, but are not lost. We roll deep and always with a smile. Quick to massage and offer what we’re able. Eyes that don’t judge but trust. Kindness that lifts and carries. Laughter that’s contagious. Stories that travel. Plans that unravel silly antics and theatrics! Photos so fun, people far and wide hope for the day their energy contributes to them. Beer so delicious, drank without wishes, but thanks to the Chicken Hawk who brewed it. Evening wear that impresses without fancy dresses. Helicopter drones that will make you say “Wowzer”. Fancy footwork through all hours. Enthusiasm that never sours. Open arms, not scours. Seeds of gratitude planted into beautiful flowers. Hope that devours doubt. Encouragement to twist and shout! An open-ended invitation for your happiness to come out.
We have long been the difference we wish not only to see, but feel, breathe and believe in the world, and we want you by our side! You can find our family wherever Good Signs are carried and people are merry. It may not be one of us, but we all possess love and blood to gush, to remind of genuine human touch. We are few and we are many. We are anonymous in the spotlight. We are up all night yet rise with the sun so bright. We are free and driven, with belief in each other and in you!
We are also human and susceptible to harm.
A blessing was given to us all before we even arrived to Summer Dance. After some harmless wrong turns, not one mile into Ohio, my eyes fixated upon a blue trailblazer, driven by my best friend Rob, with my first love, Gabby, as passenger. A car cut off a semi and the semi crashed into the back of Rob’s vehicle, forcing him to swerve clear across the interstate, into the median, on two wheels, and nearly flipping over if it wasn’t for Rob’s ability and awareness to maneuver his vehicle. After witnessing the most terrifying site in my 29 years, I pulled off the side of the road, bolted out of the car and sprinted alongside the freeway with Storyteller praying that our dear friends were not severely injured or dead. We ran passed a woman who had gotten out of her vehicle and screamed, “Please Jesus!”, which only terrified me more. Time stood still for that quarter-mile until the vehicle came into sight and I saw Rob and Gabby unharmed standing and squeezing one another with dear life. The rest of our four-car caravan rushed to the scene and thanked the powers that be while sharing a group hug that only magnified the chills in my spine.
No more than one minute before the accident, I was on the phone with Rob who called me after I lead us off a bogus exit and to multiple turnarounds. Had Rob still been on the phone with me when he was hit, he wouldn’t have been able to take control of the wheel and prevent them from rolling over in the middle of traffic on the busy interstate. I am extremely grateful that my family did not get injured or perish that September day in the state we Michiganiacs detest. I am grateful to be free of the weight of the blame I am certain I would insist upon my shoulders had anything happened to these two beautiful souls. More than ever, in that moment I felt the protective energy around my family and I for all the good we instill into the world. In my heart, we were given a miracle and I haven’t properly given thanks for that until today.
When the police eventually showed up, they were kind enough to recommend we duct tape any flailing car parts and continue on our way to Nelson Ledges. In less than one hour’s time, we evaded a near death experience, embraced each other as a loving family, and were on our way to Summer Dance without a single scratch or bruise…
-End Part 1-