This evening, local singer-songwriter Carrie Newcomer gave her annual free concert in the park. I would love Carrie's music even if she weren't a local girl, but having her as part of my extended community (we have friends in common, we go to the same vet clinic, etc.) makes her shows even more special. As usual, she performed a nice mix of old and new songs (quite a few that she hasn't yet put on an album -- do we still call them albums? ok, us old farts do--) and as always I was impressed with the consistency of her songwriting. She's a singer-songwriter who isn't afraid to be a writer; her most recent album, Regulars & Refugees, is a collection of character portraits, many of which, one senses, could have turned into short stories just as easily as songs. She has a gift for choosing the telling detail, for writing songs concerned with matters of the spirit but firmly grounded in the recognizable, touchable, seeable world. Her summer park concerts are always a festival of kids dancing in front of the stage, birds wheeling overhead, dogs happily wagging for attention from every passerby, picnic dinners, and listeners from every part of this community's spectrum -- every year I have a moment of looking around at the crowd and falling in love with my little midwestern town all over again.
Doesn't hurt when the weather's perfect, either.
When I come home from a great week like the one I had last week, it's easy to get cranky, to feel sorry for myself because I'll never be able to afford to live in Provincetown, never (short of winning the lottery) be able to just write full-time for more than a short time every year. But you know what, I have a good life. I have a job I like most of the time, doing work that on some level really does matter. I live in a town filled with grass and trees and bunnies and birds, with lots of music and lots & lots of good people. I have good friends. I don't make much money, but I make enough to get away for a workshop now and then and to buy a few books here and there. I live in a little house with the two cutest cats in the world (ok, I'm biased), who are both healthy and who both seem to adore me. My writing isn't where I want it to be, but I am motivated to work hard at it, and the hard work is what matters.
And on top of it all, I didn't see one single mosquito this evening. (I think they all migrated to Provincetown.)
It's not a glamorous, exciting, or well-to-do life. Sometimes it's just barely comfortable. But it's a good life. It is. And nights like tonight, I find myself just breathing deep, breathing it all in, filling my whole body with gratitude.