Final Thought, October 2010


In the past few years, I’ve found myself in China at exactly the time when big feasts are being served up back home: Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving. Let’s just say I’ve missed out on several large, heaping scoops of mashed potatoes. This year, however, I happen to be touching down in Canada the day before Thanksgiving Monday and I’ll be in attendance as the dining room table expands for guests. What’s more, I’ll be travelling in the U.S. and will be performing at a friend’s place on American Thanksgiving at the end of November.

Could I be any luckier?

So I have lots to be thankful for.

This year, I’m especially thankful for the people in my life.

Last night, my Beijing trio (pictured above: Zac Courtney on the left [drums] and Paplus Ntahombaye on the right [bass]) performed our last club show of the season at my favourite live music venue in Beijing: Dos Kolegas (Liangge Hao Pengyou). The stage fills with sound there like a steaming bathtub on a chilly evening. The gig wrapped around us as players and we floated there, united in cohesed groove, for an hour and a half. It was divine. It was the joy. The reason. This venue reminds me of why I love performing live. It’s not about who’s there; it’s a space to be in the music as players. Like breathing under water.

We finished the gig smiling, feeling like a family, knowing we’ll miss each other as I slip away for six weeks.

Afterwards, I had a chance to visit with friends who came to take in the show. I was chatting and laughing and then, gently, the way a movie pauses and time seems to slow down, I was filled with this sharp awareness, like I was watching myself in the room through the telescope of my own eyes. Colours got brighter. Every angle seemed cleaner. The sound of voices, drinks clinking and the background music all seemed to harmonize perfectly.

In that brief but full moment, I was overcome with gratitude. It’s the kind of gratitude that comes from knowing you have found community: the communion of time and space with good people. I’m sure you’ve felt that too, when you’re surrounded by people who are such bright lights in the world that it will forever be impossible to imagine darkness. It’s a moment of pure wonder at one’s good fortune.

And that moment of gratitude for my China community was following instantly by another layer of gratitude for my international community: my Canadian, American and Australian friends, especially. Thank you for your continued support and connection across distance. I don’t see your faces often enough, but I somehow feel closer to some of you than I ever have before. As time passes, I think I’m finally learning how to be more present in my friendships, even when I’m not physically present. Just like only taut guitar strings will sing, maybe that true sense of vibrating, resonant community is simply about being willing to strengthen ties no matter what. We’re keeping our connections in tune. We’re here. Thank you.

I can’t wait to see you all again and I feel so blessed to have a job that enables me to come back to you, your geography, your worlds. I know I’ll find you all. I’ll just look for the lights.

I wish everyone on this list (and beyond) a wonderful Thanksgiving, in advance for the Americans who are receiving this and, for the Australians, happy “grateful” spring!


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