A few weeks ago Honey and I went on a belated birthday date to see one of our favorite performers, Chris Thile. Chris is a well-known and well-repsected mandolinist who has front lined the bands Nickel Creek and the Punch Brothers, both blue-grass/folk bands. Beginning in January he will take over for Garrison Keillor as the host of A Prairie Home Companion on NPR. I could go on and on and talk about his work but I’ll stop. If you want you can read more about him here.
During the concert Chris seemed to be totally mesmerized by the music. As a listener the music was transcendent. He was definitely in his element. To me, it seemed like his performance epitomized exactly who he was as a person. (Not that I know the guy, even thought we’re on a first name basis and I internet
stalk follow him.) He just looked like he was so at peace and you could feel the passion for this thing that he loves pouring out of him. I have to say, I’ve been to a lot of concerts and never felt like an artist enjoyed what they were doing as much as he was that night.
Watching him perform I started thinking about when in my life I would have a similar feeling. When am I my purest self? Where do I feel most me? And, what can I do to transfer the feelings of that time and place to other parts of my world? I came up empty. I couldn’t think of a time or place where I felt my most me the way I assume Chris does when he’s performing. Maybe that just means I’m not super passionate about anything. That doesn’t feel true. Maybe it’s just that I feel most myself in lots of different places.
I love being around family and friends and I hope that most of the time they see me at my best, at my truest self. Nothing makes me happier than snuggling up on the couch with the girls. I love that all these years later Honey and I can get wrapped up in an enthusiastic conversation about something (even if parenting makes those conversations few and far between). I am lucky enough to have a close group of friends that all live nearby that I get to see often. Sitting around a table, drinking wine, talking and laughing is my idea of a perfect night.
Perhaps, if I’m being honest, the place I feel most myself is the beautiful island pictured above. I’ve talked about Star Island before. There is something about this place that makes people come alive. Even though I only get to be there for one week out of every year, that one week for me is as restorative as a month at a yoga retreat. The people we spend the week with are all at their truest selves, in part I believe because there are no outside distractions. No jobs, no bills, no phones/TVs/social media. Nothing to distract us from who we really are as people. My friends from Star are the people who know me best. They get to see a side of me that most other people don’t; they see me as my most me. I try desperately to carry that feeling back to the “real world” with me, but sadly it never seems to last.
I wonder how much better we’d travel through the world if we tried to pinpoint exactly where we felt most like ourselves and tried to carry it with us in our daily lives. Would it make us better people? Would it make us more compassionate? Would new friends flock to us like bees to honey? I don’t know, but I’m going to try to find out.
So tell me…where are you most YOU?