We sit at the back of the coffee shop in wooden, slat-back chairs, our hands cupped around warm mugs. And we listen as he strums chords and sings Civil War ballads and blows brassy notes into tarnished harmonica.
The door opens and closes, the cash register tallies and the tattooed barista saunters out for a smoke, single cigarette in her hand.
The café is near-empty. Not many sit long to listen as he stands on a tiny stage under yellow low-hung lamps.
And as he sings I think about how hard it is sometimes, this creating. And I wonder, too, why we insist on it, even when no one listens or reads or shows up. I wonder why we do it even when we don’t much feel like it, when we’d rather be watching American Idol or playing the wii or paging through Better Homes and Gardens curled snug on the couch. I wonder why we keep doing it even when we might want to quit – cap the pen, shut the laptop, lay the guitar in blue velvet, close the lid.
We clap. The applause sounds thin, and I hear music hard and tinny as it leaks from the headphones of the man hunched over his laptop, icy blue light reflected in wire-rim glasses.
Kjell tunes his harmonica, takes a sip from the pink-flowered mug and rolls his sleeves once, then twice more.
“Are the Huskers playing tonight?” he jokes, and we laugh loud to show camaraderie because the coffee shop is so quiet.
Karna leans in close across the table, her hand on my arm. “It’s what he’s always wanted,” she says, eyes on her son, the one wearing cowboy boots, the one standing on the gritty stage with a guitar slung over his shoulder. “All he’s ever wanted to do is write songs and make music.”
And she gives me the answers I already know.
So why do you pursue your God-given passion, even when sometimes it feels like a long, uphill road?
Writing toward 1,000 gifts with Ann:
190. Pursuing God-given passion
191. Pear trees blossoming white like cumulous clouds
192. Vivaldi flute concerto, “The Goldfinch”
193. Red porch swing
194. Man riding shiny purple motorcycle
195. Girl with sassy red tights
196. Wearing shoes without socks
197. Grass greening up
198. Perfect half-moon
199. Switching to spring coat
200. Drycleaning winter jackets
And linking with Jennifer Davis for her Journeys series: