42. 5 things i learned while on tour

1. I need time alone.
2. Living with others makes me feel more whole.
3. I need to cure my snoring problem.
4. I can be an asshole.
5. I’m relatively good with maps.

Now one by one:

1. I need time alone.
I didn’t know this about me until this trip. I mean I always knew I was one who didn’t mind being alone but I didn’t know that I NEEDED to be alone. It hit me Thursday night (our 5th day together), driving into LA. Marty was at the wheel and I was reading the map and I was getting really short with him – barking directions at him and criticizing his driving and generally being an asshole (see point number four). He was good enough to put up with it although he did the right thing and told me how uncomfortable I made him feel the next day.

This surprised me because normally, I’m one who can put up with anything. I pride myself on having both a long fuse and a short, controlled explosion should you make it to the end of the fuse (not many do). But that night I was really being a jerk. Marty had enough stress dealing with LA traffic (take Hawaii traffic, remove all the aloha, and speed all the cars up 30 percent and you get the idea) and we had been on the road for hours surviving on nothing but lame radio stations and even lamer road games. Marty was heroically dealing with it all and didn’t need me giving him heat but he got us to where we needed to go with a cool head.

The next day, the first thing on the schedule was meeting up with Miles’ aunt in LA. I asked the other guys if it would be okay for me to pull out of that meeting so I could be alone for a while. I told them I usually spend a lot of time by myself and hanging out with three other people for five days straight was turning me into something I didn’t like. They all understood and as it turns out, we thought it would be a good idea for all of us to kind of disband for a few hours and unwind by ourselves.

The next morning, I ended up at The Grove where I spent most of my time at Starbucks (which was actually at the Farmer’s Market next door) and at Barnes and Noble. I felt a bit odd because normally when I’m by myself, it’s because nothing else came up that I wanted to do. This was the first time I was by myself just to be by myself. In other words, this was the first time being alone was a purposed activity, something I wanted to do. I wasn’t sure how to go about it so I ended up at Starbucks smoking a clove and watching the people walk and later, when I ended up at Barnes and Noble, I spent most of that time talking to Steph back in Hawaii (not exactly time alone but it was time away from the band nevertheless and it did me good).

Once I was back with the band, I felt a lot more myself again. From then on, everything was pretty groovy. There were moments where I felt the same kind of social claustrophobia but whether by design or by chance, there were other times where I was able to get away and be by myself so I could keep the asshole side of me at bay.

2. Living with others makes me feel more whole.
Now this sounds like a contradiction to number one and in a way it is. Being with three other people, even for just a week, gave me a kind of confidence and assurance in who I am. I mean, sure there were times when all I wanted to do was get away but by the end of the week, I noticed a subtle but sure kind of ease with myself that I don’t think I’ve ever felt before.

It’s hard to put into words because it’s something that kind of crept up on me slowly, something that I could have easily missed. Even now I’m having a hard time explaining it. Okay, maybe this works. Have you ever been to camp? I mean those church camps where high schoolers or singles or couples or men or women or some other social sub-group of people get together and spend time away from the world to learn about God. You know how by the end of those camps, you feel like everyone is your best friend and you’re able to share your deepest, darkest, holy-shit-you-did-that kinds of secrets around the campfire? That’s kind of how I felt, only not as intense and not as smokey (and no smores which is fine with me because I think they’re overrated).

Donald Miller, in his books Blue Like Jazz and Searching For God Knows What talks about the importance of living in community – something society seems to be moving away from. I can’t help but wonder if my feeling-more-comfortable-in-my-own-skin thing was the result of living in a kind of mini-community for a week. I suppose I’ll have to find some kind of balance between community time and alone time once we make the move up here but I’m not too worried about that. If we didn’t kill each other and break up the band after one long week of ALWAYS being together, I doubt there’s anything we won’t be able to work out once we make the move.

3. I need to cure my snoring problem.
Yeah, I snore like a tornado. With all of my charming, lovable qualities, there had to be some kind of downside to knowing me and snoring is one of them. Luckily I have at least six months to lick the problem. In fact, I went to get a dental check-up this morning (my first one in at least four or five years) and once I got into the fancy dental chair (complete with arm and leg restraints), there was a poster for a anti-snoring mouth guard type device.

While on the trip, I tried a couple of mouth spray things that seemed to do no good. For all I know, they were filled with snake oil. From what I’ve been told, I have an industrial-strength snore. Spraying something on the back of my throat is kind of like fighting a forest fire with an atomizer. I’ll be asking my dentist and my doctor about options. Hopefully I’ll have the problem taken care of before I make the move.

4. I can be an asshole.
Who knew? See number one for more details.

5. I’m relatively good with maps.
I was able to get the band from point A to point B without too much trouble. I mean sure at one point I had us driving through the heart of Inglewood and through a couple other dicey looking neighborhoods (make that ‘hoods, nobody’s your neighbor in some of these places) but we never got jacked or shot at so what’s the big deal? Besides, we even got to see the legendary West Coast Choppers shop because of one of my map-reading mistakes.

It’s not like I have a natural sense of direction. I don’t. I spent a lot of money on maps. I hate the feeling of not knowing what’s going on and nothing tweaks that nerve more than being lost. The few times we had to go completely off map and rely on someone else’s directions, I was NOT at ease.

6. Summary
So there you have it. Five things I learned about myself while on tour with Harrison. Of course, there were other things I learned (like the fact that bears don’t like paintballs) but these are five things that came immediately to mind…which may or may not mean they’re significant. All this to say that if you get a chance to drive down the West Coast with your band mates, I’d say go for it. You’re likely to learn as much (if not more) about yourself as you do about them along the way…and it’s a lot more fun than therapy.

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