The influential philosopher Φέρις βυέλληρ once said: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”
Doing my Odyssey performance as much as I do, traveling a much as I do, working as hard at music as I do, it’s easy to forget to stop and look around and appreciate how much I’ve accomplished and how much I get to do as a part of this wild journey to bring Odysseus’ story to modern audiences.
Part of this mentality is that stopping and recognizing success even for a moment feels like I risk losing creative and career momentum, like I’m asking the Muse to take leave of me and not return.
Does that sound overly dramatic?
Is it overly dramatic?
But being creative in the right way (for me) feels like a matter of life or death. I’m not suggesting that what I do and make is critically important to anyone outside of me, I just know that when I’m making and performing music in the right way, and when I’m working on this unique career I’ve managed to carve out for myself, I feel as if it’s vital is the pure sense of the word: I feel like I need to do it to live and that life is at its most vivid for me in those moments.
And stopping even for a minute sometimes feels like I risk that.
I also know that in not acknowledging and appreciating my success with the Odyssey I also risk not being sufficiently grateful for everything I have, everything for which I’ve worked, and all the support I’ve received and continue to receive.
And the Muse also needs gratitude.
After a long Sunday of travel from Dallas, I landed in Honolulu, Hawaii, to stay for three and a half days and perform my Odyssey twice.
I had aggressively pursued shows in Hawaii going back to 2018 when I decided to make it my mission to perform the Odyssey in all 50 states, and I was lucky enough to get interest from a high school, Punahou, and the University of Hawaii.
Once the shows were booked, I took a deep breath and (with my wife’s encouragement, nay, insistence) planned two and a half days off for myself to see the island and be grateful. And I NEVER give myself that many days off on the road. Many tours I don’t even give myself one day off.
But getting to go to this beautiful exotic place, as part of my work, to perform a thing I love?
I had to stop and look around as our man Φέρις suggested we do every once in awhile.
After arriving at a quirky and wonderful B&B near the university, I took a run around the Waikiki neighborhood in the humid but lovely 80 degree evening and headed to a phenomenal Japanese restaurant walking distance from my accommodations where I drank a Longboard beer and devoured a large meal of skewers and tempura.
The next day, Monday, I had coffee and breakfast in the garden, listening to the sounds of strange birds and looking at the colors of strange foliage. I sat in a beautiful study room with the windows open, drinking coffee, doing follow ups at a leisurely pace and editing this blog about my 300th show.
I took another short run in the opposite direction from my Sunday run.
In the afternoon, my host professor from UH picked me up and we went to two beaches with his 8 year old son, walking and talking about classics, the Odyssey, Guns n’ Roses, and life, finishing the day back at his family’s house with a wonderful home cooked meal.
The next day, Tuesday, I woke in my third floor room to the sound and smell of light warm rain on the roof. After another great breakfast, I rented a car and spent some time exploring.
I went to Pearl Harbor.
I drove around almost the entire island, stopping for coffee, Hawaiian ice, and to walk on more beautiful beaches. I took another run in the evening and then went to meet some old friends in Chinatown for drinks and food.
Wednesday morning brought more rain, heavier and somehow more beautiful, and I sat savoring my last Hawaiian breakfast.
A short ride to Punahou school (Barack Obama’s alma mater) and I met my contact to set up and chat. He and I hit it off immediately and the performance was really special: I sang with a customary lei around my neck.
Another short ride and I was at UH setting up in a lecture hall for my second performance. My voice was worn but it responded splendidly and I thought about and felt the power of singing a song about the sea, travel, and island living after traveling over the sea to reach this peculiar island.
My host took me around for the rest of the day and the warm afternoon sun fell on us as we blasted Appetite for Destruction out his car window. We went to the China Walls and watched the locals jump into the waves, their power again making me think of Odysseus and his complex relationship with the water: I imagined him struggling ashore here trying to avoid the harrowing rocks as he does when he washes ashore on Scheria in book 5.
Another home-cooked dinner and I was off to the airport to take a redeye back to the continental US.
I had fortified myself with a little wine (as the Greeks would have wanted) to help me sleep and as the plane taxied and lifted up over the winedark water, I closed my eyes and tried to remember every moment of the previous three and a half days, every meal, every mile, every rain storm, every person, every beach, every cup of coffee, every chord I played and note I sang and every question from every kind audience member.
Every time I felt the Muse and felt thankful for all she has given me.
Thankful I took Φέρις βυέλληρ and his wisdom to heart and stopped for a moment to look around and appreciate my odyssey for all it has provided.