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  • Fare you well my honey
    Fare you well my only true one
    All the birds that were singing
    Have flown except you alone

    Goin to leave this Broke-down Palace
    On my hands and my knees I will roll roll roll
    Make myself a bed by the waterside
    In my time - in my time - I will roll roll roll

    In a bed, in a bed
    by the waterside I will lay my head
    Listen to the river sing sweet songs
    to rock my soul

    River gonna take me
    Sing me sweet and sleepy
    Sing me sweet and sleepy
    all the way back back home

    It's a far gone lullaby
    sung many years ago
    Mama, Mama, many worlds I've come
    since I first left home

    Going home, going home
    by the waterside I will rest my bones
    Listen to the river sing sweet songs
    to rock my soul

    Going to plant a weeping willow
    On the bank’s green edge it will grow grow grow
    Sing a lullaby beside the water
    Lovers come and go - the river roll roll roll

    Fare you well, fare you well
    I love you more than words can tell
    Listen to the river sing sweet songs
    to rock my soul

    by Robert Hunter, for the Grateful Dead, Brokedown Palace
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    It seemed appropriate, as I lay in bed at 3:30 a.m., wide awake, thinking about an impossible situation at work, my health situation once again questionable, thoughts swirling around in my head, no seeming rhyme nor reason to it all, only one thing to do about this situation that seemed to have no end in sight. Get up and start writing. Keep writing until I’ve written my way out of the impossible spot I’ve found myself in.
  • This is what I do. This is what I’ve done. For the past five years, when insomnia has come a-visiting, when work has brought unsettling circumstances to my door, when my health has begun to remind me of my age, despite my best efforts to stave the whole age thing off, I’ve been reminded, and had reinforced the idea, that I am not alone.

    I first learned this a long time ago, in another place and time, through a fellowship of the spirit that I found in the rooms of 12 Step recovery programs.

    A poem I wrote shortly after I first realized that I was, indeed, one of them, one of the lucky ones who qualified to be in those rooms, after I had faced the daunting loneliness of addiction in some of its most insidious forms, then felt the miracle of the fellowship of the spirit lifting me right out of that loneliness into the loving arms of its embrace, the amazing grace I’d only ever heard of in song, but never experienced in life, before then, I wrote this poem:

    Nevermore Alone – 4/6/1980

    You never have to be alone...
    I’ve heard this many times before,
    But finally, now, I understand
    That I can really turn the key,
    And let somebody in the door,
    And even let them take my hand,
    And never be alone again!

    I think that I have found a friend,
    Or two, or five, or maybe ten!
    Thank you…that’s all I really have to say,
    It feels so good to feel this way
    It’s real and it is here today,
    In all the things we say and do
    Together! Nevermore alone!
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Eventually, my sense of not being alone expanded beyond that fellowship, as I developed a broader sense of not-aloneness with the universe. I came to trust it, as I trusted that fellowship of spirit, and to believe that I would always be a part of, and not apart from.
  • That feeling, that knowing, that trusting, helped me to make my way through life, despite circumstances which led me to being outside any fellowship of spirit of the 12 Step programs, put out there by misunderstandings of my own, and seeming exclusionary ideas and practices that gave me reason to believe belonging to one of those programs was actually limiting to my spirit, and mine needed to be part of a broader fellowship of man.

    Over the years, and particularly in recent years, beginning around 2007, growing stronger as time marched forward, I developed a yearning for a deeper connection with my fellows of the spirit, something more tangible, more palpable, something I could feel, connections that reached in and touched my heart, not just a mental concept that I knew, but one I could feel, and touch with my soul.

    This yearning stirred my soul, tugging at my heart, pulling me towards a search for clues, for ways to connect, a way to scratch this itch that had become more and more obvious in its need to be scratched. I couldn’t just ignore it, in hopes it would go away.

    I tried a number of things out, but I was still approaching it all with my head, which was how I was living most of my life, at this point. I wasn’t feeling it as much as I once could, I was remembering something from long ago, trying to re-create it, figure it out, define it then step into it. This, of course, is an impossible thing to do. You can’t re-create something that once was. You can only create something new. Creativity is like that. It doesn’t lend itself to the effort of trying to copy something – that’s not creative. That’s trying to build something from memory, that memory only remembers the highlights of. Memory is insufficient to put in all of the aspects of the essence of something that once was. But, creativity allows for all of that, and more.
  • So, as I stumbled along, trying this, looking into that, I re-connected with my writing along the way. It was something I once did, and now, I began to rediscover its magic.

    I was led to a writer’s workshop that unlocked a part of my being that had been carefully tucked away in a corner of my mind for a long time, as I rediscovered my love of writing.

    I wrote about many things as the outfit that held the workshop also had a need for writers to write for it, and I felt an obligation to give back to, since it had given me back my love of writing.

    I went on assignments, interviewed subjects, and wrote it all up in blog articles. I got carried away on wings of excitement as a dream to write a book broke out of its slumber, and I began to try to tackle that daunting task. It revealed a great lacking I didn’t realize I had – I hadn’t really availed myself of the discipline of writing, where I got up every day and wrote. It had never been that kind of a thing with me. Writing was just a hobby.

    Writing a book, especially one as ambitious and far-reaching as the one I had developed a vision for, would require a discipline and dedication I did not possess. I was no writer. I was a dabbler, at best.

    It was a devastating discovery, one that really threw me for a loop. It threw me into a writer’s block that nearly killed my spirit for writing. I tried to convince myself that I was no writer, not really, that I had been a complete fool to even think I could write. It got so bad, I didn’t even write in my own personal journal, I was so embarrassed that I had actually believed I could write, when I knew I couldn’t.

    But, that itch was still there, still needing to be scratched. That’s when an old coach of mine mentioned, in an e-mail, a strangely named storytelling site her husband had happened across, that might be of interest to me. She didn’t know what all was going on with me and writing at the time. She just knew I was a storyteller, and that it seemed like a good fit for me.
  • Turns out, it was. I checked it out, and the flood gates opened up. Words began pouring out of me. An excitement I had never before experienced, with writing, woke me up early each morning, barely able to contain myself before I could sit down at my computer and begin composing a story, a poem, picking up a thread of thought to follow through story to a conclusion I didn’t know anything about until, together, me and my imagination, reached it as I wrote.

    A ready audience awaited on the other side of that click when I’d hit “publish”, along with the amazing discovery that me and my writing were no longer alone. I was part of a much larger fellowship of the spirit, a fellowship of writers, that simply blew my mind.

    I’ve never been the same. My journey’s led me through a couple thousand stories, more connections than I’ve known, ever, and has even led me back to the rooms of a 12 Step Fellowship, a place I never thought I would wind up in, again, and a real sense of belonging the likes of which I’ve not known before.

    Instead of merely remembering a time, that had grown to epic and mythical levels of fantasy in my mind and memory, when I was a part of something so amazing, I found myself actually there, presently, in the moment. It was far richer, and deeper, than any memory could have been. Because, it was now. It is now.

    Cowbird was an important part of my journey, a linchpin, if you will. The connections I made here, with my own creativity, and with an amazing assortment of creative individuals the likes of which I would never have connected with, otherwise, have really blown my mind.

    Yes, I had a really hard time letting go of the idea that this would be around forever. I fought to hang onto that which was a free gift, given and received at a time that it met exactly what my spirit needed. I forgot how I came upon it in the first place. I forgot that you can’t re-create something that was. It can’t be done. You can only create something new. Something better. Something that fills the needs of your yearning soul, now.

    For the gift that Cowbird has been to me, I will always be incredibly grateful. The love that was put into its creation was palpable. The sense of belonging that I felt when I got here embraced my spirit. A big part of me will always relate as a Cowbirder. I was damn lucky to have found this, and as much as I tried to walk away in anger and feeling abandoned, when I remembered how I got here, and the gift that this joint bestowed upon me, it became impossible to do that.

    I’m not going anywhere. I will always be a Cowbirder. I will carry the connections, the lessons of the spirit, and lessons as a writer and storyteller that I learned here, from you, and from the discipline that this place made easy, forward into a broader sense of being among a fellowship of writers and creators.

    Fare you well. Fare you well. I love you more than words can tell. I will listen to the river sing sweet songs to rock my soul.

    Later, my lovely ‘birds. I will see many of you as we continue to trudge along our roads to happy destiny.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    This story is dedicated to Jaga, and Alex, and Rain - three teachers I met on this journey who changed me forever.
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