The Journey of a Lifetime

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I had some friends over for dinner the other night, and one them broke the sad news that he was about to be laid off from a job he’s held a long time, at a big corporation. It wasn’t like he’ll be destitute – there’s a severance package commensurate with his years of service, and his wife has a good job. But, for the first time in his post-college adult life, he will not have a job to go to and apply his skills.

So he made a courageous decision. He’s an avid motorcyclist, with many years of multi-day road tours under his belt with fellow riders. He decided this could be his one best chance to do a motorcycle tour of the United States. He’s not against having company, but he intends to set out alone. He has friends at various points around the country he intends to visit on his journey, but between those encounters, he intends to be utterly without an agenda. He expects to be gone about two months.

His wife is on board with him going on this adventure – they talked about it, and agreed that fate has presented him with a chance to do something he would regret not doing. In
short, he has heard the knock of opportunity, and he’s going to answer it, and he’s fortunate to have a spouse who is on board with the idea. The long view is, 2 months apart will be nothing compared to he benefits of this experience.

I listened to this announcement with some fascination and more than a little envy. “How cool is this?”, I thought. “What would I do, presented with the same situation?”

And then I realized – I embarked on a similar journey about 10 years ago, when I got immersed in playing music. I have played over 600 gigs in those years, many of which took me out of town for days at a time. I was never gone for two months, but I was never home for two whole months, either. And my wife never complained. Like my lucky friend’s wife, she knows what it means to me and has tolerated me pursuing my dreams with selfish abandon.

I don’t need to take off for 2 months to find myself – I’ve been on that journey of a lifetime for decades now, and I am incredibly lucky to have a wife who has been unselfish enough – loves me enough – to let me do it. Some of my bluegrass musician buddies have spouses who share their passion for playing music, or at least the scene that surrounds it. But what about those for whom bluegrass is not a passion? They’re left with either pretending to like it, and participating, tolerating frequent absences, or – what? It can be a lot to ask of a marriage.

If your husband or wife isn’t a big bluegrass freak, but indulges you in your musical pursuits, make sure to thank them, and appreciate them. In my case, I have been able to enjoy years of playing out, and now, my wife has been to the last two Father’s Day Festivals, and I have scaled back the musical travel. I’m still on the journey of a lifetime, and I am NOT traveling alone!

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