Finding the Art in Everything

14 September, 2008

Not a Stalker, but...

This is my set list from the Inkwell show on Thursday night. At the end of the show, we went to go say hello to the band. The frontman gave it to me, right after I asked him to play a song that makes him miserable--at which point I would have stopped talking to me. He was so personable, and I liked him so much, that the details he shared about his upcoming album made me so excited for him--almost proud of him? I wanted to be his friend.

I felt this way when we saw Billy Collins' reading at Rollins on Tuesday:

I get this urge to be friends with people whom I have no business claiming all the time. And I think it is caused by three things:

First, I really appreciate people who are at the top of their craft--its inspiring. As a teacher, I live to be part of the small accomplishments of my students--I am proud when they excel even beyond what would be a return on my investment. When someone is THIS good at what they are doing, I am that much more eager to be part of it and think I should be because of my routine, small-scale opportunities.

Second, there is that urge to hang on and prolong the extraordinary moments. I have come across this image of "manna" several times this week. I want to be friends with these people because they seem so great, and I feel like I have space for them. But real people are not as great as stage people, nor do they have the space for me. Trying to hang on to the people I find in these shows and performances would spoil in the way that manna did. It's the familiar paradox that what is most worth keeping can rarely be kept.

Third, there is the trill of seeing THE person who MADE the THING that means so much to me. I was this way with the songs and the poems. And seeing these performances live, the reading or the rock show, puts me in the same moment as the person who is making the thing that means so much to me. It meant something to the performer enough to create the song or poem, it meant enough to me to go to see it performed live, and now it means something because the performance makes for a shared, meaningful experience. And somehow I think this shared meaning ought to be enough to make me friends with Kevin Devine, Andy Hull, Travis Adams, Billy Collins, and the rest.

And, yes. I know that telling them that makes me sound like their stalker.

So if you are in one of these places with me, and I start to tell whomever we just saw that they were destined to be my friend (or marry me), please point out my drink is empty and that it is time for a refill.

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